The house in the hollow sits at 1600 feet above sea-level. The house has seen about 160 autumns, and the same house has been our home through thick and thin for 30 of those autumns. Ah, the midst of nowhere. “Franklin Gothic” (click on photos) shows Streamwalker and brother “Joe-Bob”, also a Greenwood writer, who resides a couple of miles directly over the hill. We communicate with each other by yelling into empty soup cans strung together with a long stretch of unraveled chicken wire.
The brook trout is my totem for the rivertop. Today, when I thought about this beautiful char, I also thought of two wild birds I see in these woods. The brown creeper is diminutive and camouflaged as it climbs the trunk of trees. I saw one in the yard today and it made me focus on the close and local aspects of my place. The golden eagle is a powerful bird I typically view as it migrates over our hills in autumn. This darkly majestic creature, an unusual sight in the eastern U.S., never fails to send me a glimpse of the world beyond. Since I don’t have the equipment to photograph birds, I settle for the photo of a wild trout that I briefly hold. When the fish darts away, I imagine it’s to a place where a creeper hides and where an eagle soars. I’m not trying to sound mystical here, just making a connection. Maybe it’s the poet in me feeling like he needs a hug.
The “Grand Culvert” can be found on a remote headwaters stream in the Genesee drainage. Brook trout can traverse through the culvert from the pool below and swim up to their spawning beds. The same cannot be said for the “Barrier Culvert” on a sister stream where the highway department botched the installation. There’s too much of a drop (and too much water falling) from the lip to the pool for brook trout to swim upward. Just beyond the culvert is a spawning ground for native trout– a rivertop– where, early and late in the year, I like to fish with barbless flies.
A couple of years back, in early summer, my wife and daughter posed beside a rivertop during our visit to Maine. Now, as winter makes an approach at home, I imagine I see its source in a local stream. Winter, then, has its start in a pool high on Spring Mills Creek.