Saturday, November 30, 2013

Good Reading

Thanks to Moldy Chum for the heads up on this good read over on Men's Journal:

Fly-Fishing Confidential

A Montana river guide (and aspiring novelist) is a pro at taking corporate execs to the big trout – but meets his match when he lands two outlaw literary legends in his boat.

Read it HERE.

For All You Nymph Fishermen Out There

"The Nymph of the Stream" by Edward John Poynter, 1906

Thursday, November 28, 2013

"A List of Praises" by Anne Porter

"Autumn Wheat Harvest" by Walt Curlee

Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing,
Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches,
Mad with the joy of the Sabbath, 
Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,
Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes, 
A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry 
living wild on the Streets through generations of children.

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away 
With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle
As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,
Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh
Of the wind in the pinewoods, 
At night give praise with starry silences. 

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls 
And the rattle and flap of sails 
And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell
Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor. 
Give praise with the humpback whales, 
Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.
Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids and cicadas, 
Give praise with hum of bees, 
Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.
When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries
We know that the winter is over. 

Give praise with mockingbirds, day's nightingales.
Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle 
And glossy tulip trees
On quiet side streets in southern towns.
Give praise with the rippling speech
Of the eider-duck and her ducklings
As they paddle their way downstream
In the red-gold morning 
On Restiguche, their cold river,
Salmon river, 
Wilderness river. 

Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow.
Far, far from the cities, 
Far even from the towns, 
With piercing innocence 
He sings in the spruce-tree tops,
Always four notes 
And four notes only. 

Give praise with water, 
With storms of rain and thunder 
And the small rains that sparkle as they dry,
And the faint floating ocean roar 
That fills the seaside villages, 
And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains 

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood,
And with the angels in that other country.

From Living Things by Anne Porter, published by Zoland Books, an imprint of Steerforth Press of Hanover, New Hampshire. Copyright © 2006 by Anne Porter.

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So Many Memories

The first time I got on the river this fall I switched out the fly boxes in my vest and cleaned off the fly patch. It all still lies on my tying desk.

I hadn't cleaned off that patch since my first trip to Rocky Ford Creek last March.

So there, in one little pile, is the tangible record--minus the many flies I lost--of the entire trout season.

So many memories in one little heap of deer hair and feathers.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Be Thankful For What You Already Have

Thank goodness there are still sane people in this country. Go to Moldy Chum to learn more about what Patagonia is doing on this "Black Friday" to counteract the insane materialism running rampant in our culture.

Dreamtime: Philip R. Goodwin

The cold, dark months are a good time to dream of long, warm days, open country, and adventure. These paintings by early 20th century painter and illustrator Philip R. Goodwin certainly get me going. So dream on....

Monday, November 25, 2013

Darker, Colder...For Awhile Longer

Twenty-six days until the Winter Solstice:

The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26'. Though the Winter Solstice lasts only an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used as Midwinter or contrastingly the first day of winter to refer to the day on which it occurs. More evident to those in high latitudes, this occurs on the shortest day, and longest night, and the sun's daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest.
The seasonal significance of the Winter Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. (From Wikipedia. Emphasis mine.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Voices of Those Who Were Here Before

I was up on the flats on Saturday to visit some friends. This is high cattle country, and folks have been ranching up here for almost a hundred years. Bears and cougars are not uncommon. The cattle have already been herded in close to home where the ranchers can keep an eye on them during the hunger time. I look at this view, and all of my childhood dreams of someday being a cowboy come welling to the surface. I feel lucky to have gotten this close.

As I headed down I noted that the far Cascades are still only moderately snowy. We're enjoying cold but clear weather. There's a good chance that the next Pacific storm will bring snow not only to the high country but to the valley floor as well.

I passed McLoughlin Canyon on the way and made a stop. I like this place. I've posted on the history of this canyon before, but here's a reminder of the story.

I climbed up to a vantage point and looked south to where the canyon opens up and that party of white men entered the canyon on that fateful day. Standing here, it's easy to imagine the whole episode unfolding before you.

On the way back to the truck I passed the grinding rock with its mortar hole, now filled with ice. This is mute evidence that the Indians used the canyon for centuries for gathering pine nuts and other foodstuffs. They would grind them in mortar holes such as this, worn into the rock over generations.

About a year after we came here there was a major fire that burned a swath some twenty miles long from the south. It roared up this canyon and burned itself out. I remember what it was like before the fire, with the welcome relief of green against the grey stone, and the wistful call of canyon wrens as the evening sun sifted through the pines. Now, especially at this time of year, there is only stark silence.

It makes the voices of those who were here before seem even louder.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"How Like Fish We Are..."

Aldo Leopold

"How like fish we are: ready, nay eager, to seize upon whatever new thing some wind of circumstance shakes down upon the river of time! ...Even so, I think there is some virtue in eagerness, whether its object prove true or false." --From "June: The Alder Fork" in A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold.

Friday, November 22, 2013

"To the Evening Star" by William Blake

"Sleeping Volcanoes with Evening Star" by Robin Street-Morris

Thou fair-haired angel of the evening,
Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!
Smile on our loves; and, while thou drawest the
Blue curtains of the sky, scatter thy silver dew
On every flower that shuts its sweet eyes
In timely sleep. Let thy west wind sleep on
The Lake; speak silence with thy glimmering eyes,
And wash the dusk with silver. Soon, full soon,
Dost thou withdraw; then the wolf rages wide,
And the lion glares through the dun forest.
The fleeces of our flocks are covered with
Thy sacred dew; protect them with thine influence.

"To the Evening Star" by William Blake, from Selected Poems© Oxford University Press, 1996.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

River Report: The Last Nice Day

What a beautiful day. By noon the temperature is pushing 60. You don't have anything to do that can't be put off. So it's off to the river.

You go downstream from the bridge and see what you can do in some deep holes there.

Nothing doing.

You climb the bank, and move back upstream under the bridge. You want to fish the Glide up around the bend, but you stop and make a cast into the Bridge Run just for the heck of it. Bang, there's a trout on.

That was very nice. You look at the deep hole behind the pylon and see rises. So you climb over the rocks and take up a position where you can work both the current seam and the hole. Where there are trout there may be steelhead.

You see two rises at the same time under the overhanging branches.

You cast and swing. Nothing. Then you begin to strip in through the slack water and a fish takes.

A beautiful trout.

You do it again and a second trout takes.

It feels good to have a trout in your hand again.

You try a few more passes, without success. Time to try the Glide.

You start upstream wading the shallows close to the bank. You find many dead salmon, well on their way back into the universe. You regret again that you weren't here to see them when they were alive and in their prime, as you have in years past. You vow to their ghosts that you'll be there next year.

You reach the Glide. You'll fish it from the near side this time. Still a little too deep and fast to cross. You wade upstream a good ways, then turn, wade out deeper, and work your way back. You hit all the spots where you have found steelhead in the past, but this time you get only one chase and miss from what you take to be a smallmouth.

But still, it felt good. You head back down toward the bridge.

You find a deer trail and climb up the bank to the field.

It's much easier walking than over the cobble.

You get to the truck, pack up and head for home.

And now, as you write this, the bottom is falling out. It's 30 degrees heading for a low of 19. Tomorrow's predicted high is 34 degrees.

You're glad you made it out on what might have been the last nice day for a long time.