Preceding the release of "Pulp Fly: Volume Three" coming soon in early December, the Powers That Be masterminded to produce audio of my contribution to the forthcoming collection. Now freely available for download on the Pulp Fly website. Hope you all enjoy! And many thanks to Michael Gracie and Bruce Smithhammer for their organization, patient editing, and detailed work.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
“Now bugs are gonna start popping…” Jay’s voice floats on the last gust from the west end of the lake. Standing in willow bog to my ankles, glacial fed water numbs mosquito bites as I untangle my line from roseroot drooping over peat banks as Narcissus.
For minutes the wind dies, towards sunset. And here, for moments, all is as it should be. At least as I’ve worked it out in my head. Midges hatch, trout rise, and soon we will go to bed with the sun. Like being tucked in by a woodstove on a snowy day, this, is a world put to rights. Balanced, my feet on its tip-top, standing on its head peaked with white crowns. Here, I see clearly. Through the clouds that build every day is the reminder that while they are constant; yet they will part, break up, move on. The twilight will fall into darkness, and in the cycle of lives they are always there and will remain. Circling like seasons on a preschool felt board – Nature plays her hand as we learn. And hopefully, remember.
Remember these moments, which threaded together make the memories that make lives. Holes here and there, yet holding strong. They are a narrative of time, place, people – the stories that when once we reach the end, stick together like a song. Like the old one you pushed on a shelf, marked in a red-bound hymnal that comes back again and again, worming a hole in your ear and doubt. For in it, you can hear your mother singing and taste grape juice waiting for amen on your tongue.
Monday, July 1, 2013
Pulp Fly Volume Two is now available for purchase...
...rife with good stories.
For Kindle and Nook.
...rife with good stories.
For Kindle and Nook.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Runoff is in full swing here on Colorado’s Front Range. Like an old woman, the mountains slowly lose their white until only wisps are left straggling down. Winter’s tendrils grasping in cirques and north faces long into July.
Sometimes…they never leave.
Snowpack now makes small streams whitewater roar and reservoirs slowly fill back up again, after last year’s dismal low. The pounding snows of May came through at the end, like any good play in a game -- winter’s trump upon trump. Complete with cheering on my part. And any angler who did not, should have their license revoked, that’s what I say.
The benefit of being a multi-species angler is evident at this time of year: I can still find good fishing. Water levels on the mudflats are higher and murkier than they have been -- and the buoy line on the best of the beaches has been placed, holding through the summer season to protect shoreline bird breeding habitat. But there are carp – and white bass, crappie, and smallmouth bass – cruising and willing (with enough convincing -- like fathers and borrowing the car when you're 16), to take a fly.
While tailwater anglers must deal with each other and city-pond-fishers the homeless…reservoir carpers combat pelicans, bloated prairie dogs, and protective large-homed old women yelling out their windows should you get too close.
We waded far and deep, Jay, Ivan and I -- long rounds that would leave us all dehydrated and seeing phantoms – like walking through woods as night falls, with an active imagination. You can see almost anything. But that comes with the territory, I guess: moving water and blinding sun. Focusing on a single point while the world moves around you, keeps you steady. That’s why driving if you get carsick works.
So now, you just have to focus on the task at hand – that large shadow swiftly moving away – and catch up.
Monday, June 10, 2013
After an early spring morning (in both month and hour) of pike fishing with Ivan Orsic, Sean Hudson, Jay Zimmerman, and Russell Schnitzer, I was very pleased to be able work on an essay/photo collaboration with Russ. You can find the piece, “Among the Dinosaurs,” published in the "Waterlines" department in the current issue (July/August 2013) of American Angler.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Living in two worlds makes you anxious, like multiple personalities will put you on meds (or wine, I suppose, lots of wine). And when the daffodils have started blooming in the plains off the Front Range, there is still a thick covering of snow in my canyon, just below 8,000 ft. I see them as I walk to work through Boulder’s University Hill, peeps of yellow and small purple crocus, bulbs of memory, year after year.
The trout fishing I love won’t open for a few months yet, I don’t go to tailwaters or large rivers that keep moving through the year, with unrelenting currents of people and bugs. No, my trout are small. And still under snow; just like the cabin. So come spring, I start itching for warmwater – for carp and bass and the odd crappie or two.
On a day when Jay and I both had nasty headcolds but the sun was shining and snow was melting in clods off the roof, puddling loudly in the stainless steel dog food dish out the back door, we couldn’t stay in. Call it cabin fever or shack nasties, or poor judgment from sinus pressure.
We head to lower ground. To spring, and warm(er) temps.
And halfway down the canyon the speech begins, like clockwork – the alarm set only on fishing days -- when we cross under the railroad bridge and there is still snow. Jay pounds the steering wheel, “We’re jumping the gun a bit….what the hell was I thinking?” he chides. We’re going to have to work hard for these fish. That’s always in The Speech somewhere, working hard – and that the conditions won’t be optimal. They never are. Like they never are for hanging out a load to dry in the mountains. It always rains. I’ve come to expect it.
And I know it’s never easy, it can’t be, but I wonder if we don’t like making it more so --- like young women and boyfriends….they like the drama. And just like fishermen, they hash and re-hash it – waffle maker for Valentines Day 1998, or the Blue Winged Olives on the Arkansas, Mothers Day, 2004. They boil down to the same thing at a simmer.
I smile at the familiarity of it all, looking out my window at the elk, muzzling away snow from the new green shoots of fieldgrass, leaving the flats pocked like the moon. The Speech means the season has started, and it’s been a long winter. Not in measurable snow so much as measurable time, and words piled up like cordwood: reversal of the decreasing pile out by the shed, with files and folders growing and being named. Mine, with increasingly incoherent silliness. Imagine the delusions of nearing the end of a long race.
It has been a long winter in a chore done. And chores feel especially satisfying when you’ve had to get a little dirty in the process.
“The water’ll be cold,” Jay breaks in, predicting, “but we’ll have a decent chance for crappie and yellow perch….they’re active early.”
The warnings continue down highway 93 -- the game plan – for you see, we’re always on a mission. And there are always old army hand signals involved, too. I’m getting better at understanding them – and if not what they mean, then what I should do as a result.
“There might be some bass in close, too…they move in before staging to spawn.”
I nod. Prepared.
Perhaps I should be taking notes.
A calm surface often belies interior movement – but just like a human, it’s findable when you know where to look, when you know the ticks and troughs. That’s one of the addictions to stillwater, you just never know; and that’s the fly fisher’s eternal cry, isn’t it, one last cast, because you have to see how it all turns out – a hard thing, usually, to know the last page without The Brothers Grimm’s convenient The Ends. We depend upon stories, long after they don’t get read to us at bedtime anymore.
But that’s why we keep going. To get to the page where it’s a surprise.
She looks much the same after seven months, the gestation of a black bear. Although it feels like I’m visiting a sick friend, and am unsure whether she’ll remember me or not. Whether she’ll babble on about Phillip (who I apparently know) or peas in tea. Or how cilantro tastes like soap and that there’s an alien in the knotty pine.
Jay sticks a fist in the water as soon as we reach the bank, cool, but not too cold. Code for possibilities. And so we split up, scouting the perimeter, making long casts out deep with heavy flies. Banjo runs back and forth between us, like a calf released from Malachi’s proverbial stall. Pure joy.
And sometimes, even when conditions aren’t optimal: even when you’ve jumped the gun a bit, or even when the wind is hauling ass like it’s nine and a t-ball coach is yelling “hustle,” (and you do, because you want to round the bases to get to that generic-Coke filled cooler). Things still work out okay. Better than, really, because you weren’t expecting it.
Just as I wasn’t expecting the largemouths that latched on and fought hard, even still pale from lack of sun. Just like me. But that will change; I’ll redden and peel and they’ll darken and stripe.
And so it turns out, the pond, she’s very healthy indeed. Sane -- and remembers us well.
On the walk out, a lone meadowlark sits on a barbed wire fence; separated from its flock of winter, calling for the season to begin.
And he’s beautiful, even if a little late.
For it already has.
I don’t think he was expecting that…