Three Branches, Opening Day

Opening day for trout in northern Pennsylvania offered excellent weather and an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the headwaters. For 35 years I’ve fished three branches of the Genesee (the East, Middle, and West) on the April opener for the sake of exploration, tradition and simple outdoor fun.

Spring Mills…

Back in 1987, when I started this odd obsession, I began my casting not on opening day but slightly later, and on the Middle Branch. I was pleased to note a great white pine tree and various wildflowers marking a fresh new season on the water. I began a poetry project to be called The Wild Trout where “I was happy to explore a backyard region unfamiliar to me, the forested north-central hills of Pennsylvania,” and where “Salvelinus fontinalis, the native brook trout, was a major resource/ inspiration for this work.”

35 years later I was in the same general area and still enjoying the cold clear waters, though a bit concerned about low water levels for early April. I caught a rainbow with a Muddler Minnow at the East Branch and a second rainbow with a small black nymph along the Middle Branch in time for a modest hatch of stoneflies. The West Branch, where I’ve typically had my best luck until recent years, offered nothing in the way of fish this time around.

I remembered beaver ponds on the Middle Branch and found them to be just as prevalent now on all three branches. It was still too early for the barn swallows that were just returning on migration in 1987, swarming for a hatch of flies. I remembered experimenting with… bait… yes, that’s right– the first and only time I ever dropped an angle worm into flowing water. Proving once again that fly anglers are an inconsistent lot, I wrote about it in the opening poem of The Wild Trout, saying “… Casting alternately/ with a Blue Dun wet fly/ and a garden worm,/ I catch sweet glimpses/ of the barn swallow’s first/ appearance, tired traveler/ skimming hungrily/ through an insect hatch.”

East Branch 8-point didn’t make it…

Well, that was then and this is now. I can laugh about it and not feel the need to apologize. As a kid, fishing with a fly in the 1960s, I never used nor wanted to employ live bait for trout but, alas, a middle-aged angler longed to be “more complete” and go against the grain of orthodoxy. No big deal. Bliss Perry, an ivy-league professor/writer and fly fisherman was lured by the worm. His once popular Fishing with a Worm (1916) is one of only several books ever written on the subject (compare that number to the thousands now available on fly-fishing). It presents an honest and humorous look at angling, especially for those willing to drift a baited hook through the wrenching, shirt-sleeve tearing alder alleys often found along our streams.

Got tired along Slate Run…

Some Amish boys dug manured ground for worms to sell or to drop into deep pools of the East Branch when their work was done, an admirable and time-tested strategy, though not my own. A great blue heron rose from the woods along the river, almost like a human body aged and enervating but assured by time and practice. Herons, though, have a talent at the water that exceeds every human effort even in our dreams.

the traces…
Poplars ready for spring…
Pine Creek at Blackwell, PA
Pine Creek, Slate Run…
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A Good Day For It

The sunlit day was beautiful. I found myself fishing in the cold water (35 degrees F.) of a Pennsylvania river where the trout seemed few and far between. I did manage to capture and release a first brown trout of the season and, later, lost a large rainbow that was activated by a minor hatch of stoneflies, having chased a drifting nymph.

Wildlife was on the move. I’d seen a group of killdeer by the river road. The song sparrows, newly arrived from a warmer climate, caroled from the alder crowns, and rusty blackbirds, notable for their gleaming eyes and squeaky phrasings, mingled with other avian migrants as I poked along the water’s edge. A mink and I surprised each other at close range– the mink hunting for physical sustenance, and the angler seeking a spiritual boost.

The next day, on New York’s Genesee, was another warm one in the 60s, but the water still retained the temperature of snow-melt. Even though the trout were scarce, the solitude felt special and complete until I saw a jogger pacing toward me on the rail trail. He seemed focused on the ground ahead of him, as if he hadn’t seen me, but I heard him sharply say, “A good day for it!” as he passed.

I was left with an impression like the words from a poet friend who wrote (in a poem called Fly-Fishing) “Their gear is the best sort of technology,/ light and quiet, tools for inserting oneself/ into a place without disturbing it.” I thought of my fish rod as a tool. I raised it for a backward cast of line then brought it forward once again, happy that the river made no disparaging comment to be heard.

I was soon to meet up with an angling pal downriver. Waiting for Tim to get there from his work responsibilities, I switched my graphite instrument for one of my favorite split-cane rods. Assembling that newer tool, I noticed a serious problem. The lower ferrule had begun to separate at the glue line of its silken windings.

old graphite & symbolic skunk cabbage…

Tim arrived, and I had him inspect the situation. He had once constructed an entire split-bamboo from culm and all the basic ingredients, so I welcomed his diagnosis. Sure enough, it was a good day for it– catching the problem prior to casting with the rod again and inviting certain disaster.

first of year…

That evening I contacted my rod builder and was relieved. I could ship the rod to Virginia, and since I hadn’t been at fault for damages, I wouldn’t have to mortgage the house to have “the best sort of technology” repaired. It looked like the only real cost for me would be measured by the time lost in not casting it a while.

goodbye to winter…

As for the fishing, let’s just say… no catch this time. I had taken up the graphite once again, and Tim plied one of his bamboo rods. We waded slowly through the quiet evening river, keeping our profiles low and unobtrusive, eyes alert for stonefly rises, but resigning ourselves to “nothing much going on.”

hello to coltsfoot, first spring wildflower…

That “nothing” can be a positive notion at times, especially when considering its contrast in the mayhem of society and in the disheartening destruction that occurs in our environment both near and far. This night I was glad for the peace of nothingness and how it might have been expressed most favorably by a passing jogger who exclaimed, “A good day for it!”

Good for fishing, running, making observations, and catching up with our springtime dreams before they slip away.

Allegheny…
on Genesee…
later…

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Spring/ Sprung!

I love all four seasons in New York, but spring… ah…. Two days ago I stepped out into the gray and misted dawn and listened to the first real song of the American robin. I accepted what I heard as a modest gain compared to what many sections of the country were experiencing in a bloom already underway, but it felt good nonetheless.

The bird’s song was sweet, almost muted, but enticing, and I thought of the upstate NY farmer, William Christman (1865-1937), and his poem, “The First Robin.”

Seven years ago, Alan Casline and I brought out a small volume of the poet’s work, called On the Helderhill (available on request). Here are two of Christman’s timely pieces:

The Woodchuck in March

 The light that prints blue shadows on old snow                                                                                 Had wakened him at dawn as it had me,                                                                                             And drew him from his cave alert for spring.                                                                                   There in the bitter dark of the great birch                                                                                           Before his door                                                                                                                                         He sharpened teeth and claws,                                                                                                             For teeth and claws grow dull from long disuse.                  

 The old Neanderthaler, hairy and brainless,                                                                                       Standing erect like a man!                                                                                                                     A vegetarian too, with those formidable teeth!                                                                                   The blackberry bank roofed him from winter;                                                                                   Today he feels the pull of the approaching sun                                                                               And basks here, thinking, if he thinks at all,                                                                                       Of summer meadows spread with clover blooms.

 Surely the earth must be our Mother,                                                                                                 She bares her warm brown breast impartially to both;                                                                   The sun our Father, kindling life anew,                                                                                   Restoring every soul.

*             *            *

 The First Robin

 The first melody that followed the thousand years of winter,                                                         The old, rollicking strain,                                                                                                                       The robin drawing the frost from the rigid trees,                                                                               Starting the sap in the sugar maples,                                                                                                   Thawing the frozen earth with song;                                                                                                   The ice honeycombing,                                                                                                                           The hillside drifts wasting,                                                                                                                     Becoming fluid at the relaxing influence;                                                                                           The arteries of the continent responding to a chord                                                                         And pulsing down the grooves ploughed by the old glaciers.

So he sang when the ancient ice melted:                                                                                            “Joy, oh, joy, the eternal winter receding!                                                                                          Oh willows with your all-golden sheaves!                                                                                          Oh dogwood osiers dipped in wine!                                                                                                    The blessed spring returning                                                                                                              With undiminished hope                                                                                                                        After a thousand years.”

 

 

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The Pulse of the Run

The deep woods hike in middle March was a tough climb through the melting snow, two miles up the Pennsylvania tributary, and back. I wrote of this mountain hollow in Beautiful Like a Mayfly, 2015:

“The tributary flows through the remotest section of the river’s watershed. Its valley is mostly forested, with intermittent clearings where willow trees and alders predominate, and the brook’s flow is mostly paralleled by a jeep trail that provides limited access to a series of small hunting camps. I’ve fished the brook in springtime for nearly a decade and have never seen another human on those walks.”

upward, like a woodchuck from its den…

There have been some minor changes since the book came out, most notably from an alternation of severe drought and flooding, as well as from encounters with a human or two.  For instance, I crossed tracks with a fur trapper, a cabin-dweller, who was pulling up his line, who said that a flood, two or three years ago, slammed the brook trout population, and the fish are still struggling to return. Again, from the book:

“This back country stream averages only four or five feet in width. I worked my way up through the hollow, alone with my thoughts, toward a natural spring significant enough to be labeled Spring on the topographic map of this area. A winter wren, with its stub tail and eye stripe, flitted from an undercut bank to perch on a mossy log. As it broke into a long and intricate song, the stone-sized bird seemed perfect for this woodland habitat.”

pileated dining spot…

Stepping through the brilliant snowmelt, I knew it was still too early for the wren’s song, but a pair of pileated woodpeckers filled the forest emptiness with cackled notes. I plodded onward like a woodchuck just emerging from its den, turning from the hollow toward the distant summit. I could heed the sage advice of the trapper who suggested that I keep an eye out for the waking bears, but I preferred to daydream of the brook trout that were living well (I hoped) in the small stream down below.

The Lodge…

the pulse…

the drip…

Three days later, I was fishing on a neighboring tributary where the flow was downright cold, but where the atmosphere was toned like a bluebird’s song. The trout, those native “dwellers of the spring,” were shy and thoroughly hidden, but I felt their presence nonetheless. They were like a pulse that issued from behind the snow-capped rocks and log debris, growing stronger, warmer, every day. In the woods beyond, maple sap was dripping at a quickened pace, the various buckets filling where they hung on the rough-barked trees.

 

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Pine Creek Anticipation

Suddenly the sky was clear, and the temperature rose well above the freezing mark. Although the ice on local streams and rivers was only now beginning to crack and drift away, I drove to Pennsylvania eager to prepare for a new season on the water. There would be no fishing yet, but at least I could obtain my 35th consecutive non-resident trouting license, along with a few supplies, and then enjoy a solitary ramble down Pine Creek.

Pine Creek, once known as the River of Pines…

white pine…

There was much to look forward to this year, but the winter had been mostly comfortable and rewarding for me, so I wasn’t in any hurry to push ahead. One of my recent accomplishments was to read or reread a bunch of books that I acquired from my father’s library after he died about eleven years ago. One of my favorites was The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, about the early U.S. President whose savvy and intelligence and desire for democracy was refreshing to encounter and to contemplate, especially after a long period of suffering political scurvy in our highest offices.

edition, 1945…

looking up from Bootleg Hollow…

Another pleasurable volume was an old edition of Washington Irving’s Sketch Book or, to be exact, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gentleman. The book is famous for containing the early American tales of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (how I loved these stories as a kid growing up near the author’s Catskill Mountains!), but there are also numerous accounts of inspired rambling through Great Britain and western Europe in the first decades of the nineteenth century.

looking down…

backyard turkeys…

A chapter of the Sketch Book called “The Angler” came to mind again while walking meditatively along the rail trail of the upper Pine… Irving/Crayon marveled at a Welsh angler humping from one side of a stream to the other, waving his fly rod in the air to keep the line above the ground or free of the hungry branches nearby, adroitly placing a fly beside a twisted root or underneath an overhang where a large trout was apt to rest.

many streams just now breaking up…

The observer was something like the scholar in Walton’s The Compleat Angler, receiving instruction from the sage-like Piscator. Irving/Crayon admired this manifestation of the British angling mania, but he also had to chuckle at the “score of inconveniences” that the angler had to carry and deal with. “Angling is something like poetry–” he noted.  “A man must be born to it,” to really get the picture.

“full snow moon,” Bootleg…

One old fisherman, of humble means, that Irving spoke about was active year around. When the aged outdoorsman wasn’t casting, he was often telling fish tales in the village tavern and was known to his friends and neighbors as a sort of taproom oracle who could entertain, philosophize, drink, and make predictions like a pro. On some winter evenings he would work beside a crackling fire, fixing up his tackle, prepping for the next campaign, or building rods, nets and artificial flies for pupils and for customers adventuring from the confines of the gentry.

Mt. Tom, Pine Creek…

Hiking along Pine Creek, anticipating trails (and trials) along its well-known tributaries, I was almost ready for another spring of happy solitude, or with that small but cheerful brotherhood (and sisterhood) of the angle.

anticipation…

tributary, Darling Run…

on the rail trail, Pine….

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Winter Break

The nasally, low-pitched notes of the nuthatch enter through my bedroom window (open even in winter and appreciated from beneath the comforters) and I sense my own reawakening. The white-breasted’s wha-wha-wha notes enter non-committedly, sliding in softly from the maples in the yard, or perhaps from the woods across the road.

For me, it signifies a change– a season slowly breaking in mid-February from the constancy of cold and snowy New York weather to the possibility of spring. Here, the winter resoluteness has been good in spite of the promise of another snowstorm and the continuity of cold weather for weeks to come. It’s been good despite the mayhem of extremes bringing trouble to innumerable other sections of the country and the world.

on Dryden Hill…

I’ve rather enjoyed the season’s immutability, the sense of constancy, the lack of extreme cold or warmth, as if for tradition’s sake alone. The weather has been good for skiers and snowmobilers, good for my writing efforts and work inside, and for getting a sense of that natural torpor that some creatures of the northland must employ in order to survive the season.

who sleeps therein?

The nuthatch out my window seems to inquire, Wha-whawhat’s been happening? Well, I’ve been hearing the red fox barking on occasion and, at other times throughout the long cold nights, coyotes have sustained a wild and varied chorusing of howls nearby. The ravens, one of my singular bird contacts through the winter, have joined the crows and starlings massed on freshly manured fields, and one of them has settled on a dead raccoon beside the road.

Coyote commissioned someone else for this…

The American robin has begun its slow migration toward the north, and I’ve just seen the first brave members of the vanguard here. I’ve searched the river wetland where I’ve found the skunk cabbage soldiering on in February these last few years but, alas, now its spring heart lies beneath the ice and snow. Perhaps it, too, awaits the wha-wha-wha of the nuthatch or the fee-bee calls of the chickadee in order to discard its whitened mantle and get down to business.

Raven’s beak…

the spines of winter…

Bootleg Hollow Creek…

the path out back…

Old Walter…

 

Above the place where the skunk cabbage sleeps/ while its engine purrs and generates heat,/ may I pause and ponder the approach of spring–/ wander by the river’s edge and dream of trout,/ then ramble backward to the deep ravine,/ content with a coat of freshened snow.

what thaw? waterfall, out front…

Genesee River, state line…

the big ravine…

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The Phantom Bus and Other Observations

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with…  From the stunning piece, “The Hill We Climb,” by Inaugural Poet, Amanda Gorman, 1/20/21.

Amen.

Walking slowly up the hill, I had the best chance of seeing something new. I would be less noisy and obtrusive, though I had my work cut out for me, plodding through a crust of snow barely softened by a fall of heavy flakes.

Turkey Ridge State Forest Road…

I had no goal in mind; I was going nowhere in particular (even more so than usual). If I kept my senses open with this frame of mind, looking first to the horizon and peripheries and then to the particulars of my near environment, I might actually experience something interesting. Even with the falling snow, animal tracks were everywhere, and if I took the time to study them, I might hear the stories that they told. The ground is never blank.

bobcat print (right of glasses)…

I had recently hiked the nearby Turkey Ridge State Forest and discovered a large flock of common redpolls veering over the fields on an otherwise bird-less day. I had known about the forest for three decades or more but, for some reason, had never walked it. Now my negligence seemed almost criminal. So I hiked the ridge carefully and began to view it as another extension of my home.

largest white pine in Bootleg Hollow?

things were looking up…

I was in the big woods on the snowy hill behind my house. Looking for something wild, I listened to the hiss of falling snow, to the cawing of a distant crow and the yakking of a nuthatch from the groves of whitened maple, beech, and ash. I stepped carefully along an icy spur of the deep ravine, the granddaddy of Bootleg Hollow gullies.

at the spur between two deep ravines…

Maybe I would see the feathered sprite, the secretive winter wren– an elfin bird that likes to feed among the nooks and crannies of upturned roots and rock debris. And sure enough,  I soon found one flitting briefly over the ice-free brook that formed the gulley. A goal accomplished on an otherwise goal-free winter day!

Green Man Overlook…

there seems to be a bus in the woods…

Maneuvering eastward over the slopes, I approached an old school bus in a field of shrubs and thorny bushes. How it got there in the first place I will never know. Its burial site is a half mile from the nearest farm or place of human habitation. When I first moved to the hollow in the early 80s, I could see the bus from a knoll behind my house, but since wild nature had wrapped its arms around the rusted form, the bus has been hidden from nearly everyone’s view.

yep…

Apparently the shattered carriage had never ceased its hillside travels. Birds have nested and flown from the crossbars near its broken windshield. Porcupines and field mice have boarded the aisle and cushioned seats like children of the past. I climbed aboard, too, as if for a ride to the school of nowhere in particular. The seats were occupied but, if I stood behind the white line near the front, I could ride the phantom bus like passengers in the days of old.

all aboard…

I went to a school of wild nature for the day and then took the bus back home. The kid inside my journeyman clothes had an assignment to do. It dealt with a large machine that worked its way down my seasonal lane. The rig was lopping off significant trees at both sides of the gravel road. Fearing what it might do when it reached my property line, I approached the operator and inquired what the hell was going on.

those were the days…

The driver said they were gonna make a “real road” out of the steep mile-long thoroughfare. No one lives on the road and hardly anyone drives it other than a few ATVers who complain that its roughness spills their opened beer containers. I have long contended that maintenance was a waste of taxpayer money and, besides, I was tired of picking up empties tossed out by the careless.

here it comes…

So, the town was out to ditch the roadsides and install culverts to eliminate erosion and wash-outs. I complained, saying, “I know you guys have a legal right to cut 30 feet on either side, but it makes no sense to butcher every tree in order to control erosion. Tree roots have a job to do. They can hold down the soil, so why are we cutting trees to stop erosion? And incidentally, when you get to my place, I hope you’ll consider leaving the trees alone. I rather like them as they are.”

all the roadside trees…

I also called up the operator’s boss, the highway super, and explained the same. To my astonishment, he was totally sympathetic and said that, yes, my trees would be spared and left in peace.

to get a better view…

Man and tree gave their thanks and sighed with relief. This small place seemed better than the one I might have been left with. Science had prevailed somehow, and common sense had spoken out. Wow. Had this effort been a homework assignment, I might have walked off with an “A.”

Turkey Ridge (1)…

Turkey Ridge (2)…

 

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Two Ravens (Twa Corbies)

The first days of the new year were an icy mess, although I still had a pleasant walk on the trail developed near the house. It’s been years since I’ve kept a feeder in the yard, but I still need the company of birds in winter, so I make my daily forays on the hill, no matter that birds are nearly as scarce as January dandelions or that the weather might be as inviting as a trip to the emergency room.

The ground was white with rotting ice and a fresh layer of snow. A walking stick probed the ground as my boots crunched awkwardly along the sloping acreage. Crows called from the distance of the valley. I may have heard the nasal outcry of a nuthatch from the frozen quarters of the maple grove or cheered myself briefly at the sight of chickadees flying singly through the high boughs of the spruce and pines, but mostly I perceived the January emptiness– the solitude defined by the departure of autumn birds and foliage.

It wasn’t necessarily a sad affair. I have friends and family, music and writing. In my walking meditation, I looked outward for the words to fill an emptiness within… Two ravens flew across the valley, battling the strong winds high above. One of them seemed to fly in from the myths and stories told by Native American elders. He was a creator spirit and a trickster from the far Northwest. Even though I would have benefitted from a word with him, I was from another world, and it was only right that his great beak made no utterance today.

The second raven was the noisy one. I listened to its piercing squawks, medieval croaking notes that tumbled on the wind… I heard Twa Corbies (an anonymous, early English poem/song), carrion-eaters saying one unto the other, “Where sall we gang and dine today?” I felt lucky to be alive and well, a lone rambler with his metaphoric hawk and hound and lady fair (all of them faithful to the moment), rather than the slain knight of the song, removed from the winds that will blow “Oer his white banes when they are bare… for evermair.”

[Small consolation– I prefer cremation when the time arrives! For now, may the ravens of hope create a wonderful new year for you and yours. I thank you for reading, and remind you that comments are always welcome here.]

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A Glance at the Rearview Mirror

fishing the South Platte, CO.

As 2020 drives itself into the ground, a lot of us would say, Just let ‘er rip. Most would agree that the past year has been odd, to say the least, and, in some cases, down right tragic. From this perspective, though, with Winter Solstice just around the corner and with prospects of a cheerier 2021 in view, there’s some reason for encouragement.

Rescued Spanky the Duck from a torrent above Marble, CO. and he’s been enjoying the ride ever since…

Glancing at the rearview mirror, I can see that there have been some perks for many of us this year, despite the presence of a few sketchy characters sitting up front (times when we could actually step away from this monstrosity and walk). One of the highlights for myself was traveling, carefully, with daughter Alyssa through the high ground of this nation’s westerly zones. To commemorate the journey, I thought it might be nice to share some of Alyssa’s photos that she took.

Okay, so I took daughter’s pic at watering hole near Devils Tower…

So here’s hoping everyone stays healthy and sanguine as we steer into Christmas Lane and all of its associated crossroads, and a New Year Boulevard of Hope. Cheers!

heart of stones…

on the headwaters, Roaring Fork, CO…

Independence Pass, CO…

Covid wasn’t the only danger in 2020…

Grand Tetons…

Grand Tetons Nat’l Park…

Lamar cutthroat…

badger crossing…

near the Gallatin, MT…

trouting the Shoshone, WY…

The “Old City of Jerusalem,” Shoshone River, WY…

Fairy Falls, Yellowstone Nat’l Park….

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Looking for Survivors

No, I wasn’t out investigating a local tragedy or searching the rubble in some post-apocalyptic nightmare, thankfully enough. I was simply on my autumn trout streams looking for survivors of a brutally hot and dry summer season that, reportedly, took a heavy toll on trout as well as other aquatic species in my region of the world.

Genesee…

Whereas my investigations were brief and less than scientific, I can only echo what more knowledgeable voices have already declared– yes, the record-breaking heat and drought of 2020 took its toll on fish, at least on some of the cold-water streams of Pennsylvania and New York.

It took a while before I saw my first autumn fish on New York’s Genesee. I hadn’t expected many survivors there, where river temps can hit the high 70s even in the coolest summers. And perhaps survivors were few and far between. But after an hour or so of casting to no avail, I suddenly caught two small browns– wild fish, probably migrants from a cooler source, but a good sign nonetheless. And then came a feisty two-year-old– a hatchery brown, a summer veteran that could not resist a Weenie drifted through a deep hole underneath a bridge.

unusual for main stem Genesee, NYS…

 

On another day of rare warmth and sunshine, I discovered some large trout recently planted in a northern Pennsylvania stream. The fishing was almost too easy. Probably for the first time in my angling history, I landed a 20-inch rainbow on my first cast of the day. And more fish came in quick succession. No “fish story” here; they were newbies– fun to catch, but not exactly educated. One of the ensuing rainbows probably measured 22-inches, or more, but it jumped from my hands before I could tape its colorful size. Anyway, I hope these fish absorb some river wildness soon to help them stick around a while.

from northern PA…

Tomorrow? Hopefully I’ll get around to investigating a couple of wild brook trout streams nearby. Those native fish are strong and know how to survive.

And talk about survivors… My book Wings Over Water, published in 2020 just before the big pandemic washed upon our shores, had very little chance for exposure and sale, but it’s here, alive and waiting for a smile from anyone who enjoys the written word straight from the heart of nature. Three excerpts:

“The night rain of New Mexico spreads across the sand and binds the billions of particles for a light impression of foot and claw. The kit fox emerges, and the jack rabbit, and the great horned owl. The darkling beetle wakes with the dawn. The sun calls a black-throated sparrow into song. The bleached lizard runs from an approaching foot that makes an imprint on the sand…” (from Desert Rainbows).

“The deep night of the Delaware was rich with life and death. To fish it with flies was stimulating and intriguing if you played it right. With some planning and familiarity of water, you can have the river to yourself and get the spooky and exhilarating sense that angling is a whole lot more than you believed it was. When the big browns emerge from their hiding places and go hunting out in front of you, the sounds you’ll hear will be amplified above the norm. The riffle splash will sound as though it’s coming from inside of you; the headlight of a passing car may seen accusatory; the crack of underbrush along the bank might change a rabbit into a murderer; the slap of a beaver tail can shake you silly, but beyond all that the deep night will enfold you in the cradle of wild nature…” (from Small Stream, Big River).

“I like to find poetry in the world, in the elements surrounding us, waiting for connection and interpretation. I like to translate what is raw and flex it into ordinary words. That process, I suppose, is one facet of my job as naturalist. We all have personal frameworks in the world of nature, but all too many of us have forgotten our framework or allowed the social world to smash it. We have ways of realigning our humanity, however, with the history of our kind and with our hope for future days. As a naturalist, I try to do my small part allowing the lands and waters to assist our realignment. They speak directly and to the point. They speak the poetry of life…” (from Like an Old-Fashioned Naturalist).

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