Good Writing, Lousy Health, and Love

I viewed the cooling of my blog statistics and an overall decrease in the comments left by readers of RR. I got to thinking this was not a positive development. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I was willing to consider the possibilities. Flyfishing was on winter hiatus due to snow and ice conditions, so my writing has built on other subject matter of the blog themes, e.g. hiking and natural history finds. Maybe that’s made a difference in the traffic pattern. If so, I could readily abide with it. But what if the writing quality was sucking more than usual? If so, my bottom line, bringing good writing to the blog, was compromised, and that, folks, doesn’t sit well with this old-timer. Then I’d have only myself to blame. But as I wondered if the format should be boxed and mothballed, I got a phone call that helped me put life into perspective.

still braced

still braced

An old friend was on the line and he told me of his fall from health. His daughter, taking care of him, then took the phone and gave me the gruesome details. This old fishing pal hadn’t only suffered a severe heart attack requiring triple-bypass surgery, he also had a bad reaction to a subsequent medicine that caused him to develop blood clots in his leg and arm. He’d ventured very close to the edge of life. Fortunately, some quick remedial surgery saved him to possibly fish another day. I thanked the daughter and told my friend that he was lucky to have her close by. I told him to persevere. He was still too young to pass on a closetful (or two!) of fly rods to his grandson.There were no guarantees in life made by God or Nature, but if things went well, we’d all get another shot at the Beaverkill some beautiful day in spring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis buddy of mine is only one of several good friends or close associates dealing with heavy weather in the health department. When we suddenly learn of serious health predicaments in regard to friends or relatives or coworkers, we become more honest with ourselves, more real. Our world becomes huge, perhaps, or suddenly shrunken, depending on perspective.

Another event occurred here just the other day. The rivertop environment took another hit from the hydrofracking industry, a hit that didn’t come as a great surprise. A 12-acre fracking water “treatment facility” is about to be constructed on the headwaters of the Genesee River near Gold, Pennsylvania. No special permit or environmental study was needed to adopt this plan to treat the poisoned waters adjacent to a native trout stream that feeds my home river. No public hearing was ever held for this major construction site; no public input was required or even necessary according to state law. In the land of the shale gas money grab, the Ulysses Township Supervisors rolled out the welcome mat, and that was it. The three supervisors are apparently big stakeholders in the project and, according to local critics, have made some shady deals in the approval process.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe other day when the news came out about this frack water treatment plant to be constructed on the hill where three major river systems have their source, a hastily drawn petition circulated in protest. Sure, I signed the thing but, alas, it looks like the cards have been drawn.

I’m talking about environmental health, of course, and frankly, I find it difficult to separate the issues of personal and environmental health. Wild trout and healthy human beings are connected in more ways than simply by a fly line and a leader.

Oh, and did I mention”love” this Valentine’s Day?

I’m still enough of an aged hippy to believe that somehow love transcends the shitpile that society has become immured in. The “Summer of Love” in ’67 was too communal to survive more than a season, but within each human heart there’s got to be a shard of caring that remains alive. That care is for at least a smattering of diverse individuals on this planet, and for what’s left of the grand earth that sustains us.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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17 Responses to Good Writing, Lousy Health, and Love

  1. Leigh says:

    You might want to get in touch with Josh Fox, who filmed Gasland, and let him know what’s going on, or find a local paper with some objectivity.

  2. Howard Kogan says:

    I for one hope you keep writing, I enjoy this very much. Howard

  3. Junior says:

    For what my $.02 is worth, I think the show should go on. I read every entry and it generally brings me back to the days of “Rod and Reel and Vest and Boots and sometimes Hat and Net.” I think Leigh’s idea is a pretty good one, and you could at least ask the Gasland team if they have any advice. Here’s their contact information: I think you’d want the 4th option down.

  4. rivertoprambleswalt says:

    Howard and Junior,
    Point well taken, Gentlemen. I’m thankful to having you guys around. And yeah, I’ll check into the Gasland site. Thanks again!

  5. We should never take health for granted, our own or the environment’s. Sorry your friends are going through such hard times and I wish them all speedy recoveries. Personally, I prescribe fishing — for as long as we can all sit up and hold a pole!

  6. Ken G says:

    Things always slow down during the winter it seems. I wouldn’t give it too much thought. Just do what you do and know we may not always comment, but we read.
    When it come to making a profit, it seems there’s no stopping a project once it gets moving. But it doesn’t hurt to try.

    • Ken, Your encouragement is always appreciated. And yeah, to stand against injustice and big money interests is the right thing to do if you feel it. You never know. 25 years ago a few of us made a stand against NYS’s plan to stick a nuke dump in the region. A few voices started getting so much support that legal opposition and civil disobedience steamrolled. Eventually NY joined other regional states in opposing a federal mandate, and our issue made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. We won the battle against nuke dump imposition in our poor county. 1992. Like Davy & Goliath.


  7. Puget Keith says:

    For selfish reasons I would hope that you continue, but I gave up blogging years ago because I wasn’t pleased with the returns. A whole lot of work and too few comments. The comments and the exchanges with my readers was the “profit”. I would certainly understand if you decided to refocus your efforts on a different activity. For me I have especially the writing and photos on Greece, Scotland, and the general tides of weather in your neck of the woods. I am not so much into fishing but enjoy those stories as well.

    On a different note I would encourage you to read Walt Laughlin’s blog post on his Woods Wanderer site of 17 January 2013 where he also ponders giving up on Wood Thrush Books for reasons similar to what you have just written. If you look closely at the photo you’ll see your “Letters From Susquehannock.” I find that Walt’s long standing commitment to his blog remarkable as it seems that I am the only one that comments on his site – and only once at that. It was my copy of Letters that led me to Wood Thrush books to your site in the first place. I would just add you never can know for sure where you are in the food chain of ideas. Maybe your site is seeding the world in ways that are hard to see.

    • Keith,
      Great to hear from you. Thanks so much for the words of encouragement. You and other responders have definitely given me the faith and willingness to continue bringing out adventure and word. I love to write, as you know, and the pay off for me is people like yourself who weigh in on occasion with words of any stripe at all. It’s interesting to learn that you once blogged, as well. I want to hear what you wrote about, no matter the subject!
      I’ll have to check out Walt M.s recent blog posts. Am guilty of neglecting Woods Wanderer, of late. Walt does an admirable job, tenacious as a wolverine. I encourage readers to visit his site. As for Rivertop, we’ll keep on rambling as long as you’re there!

  8. Joseph Hord says:

    I always enjoy stopping by to read your writing, even if I don’t always get a chance to leave a comment. I know I’m guilty of not writing on my own blog as much as I intend to, and also of reading a lot of other’s blog posts without leaving a comment. With that said, I’m going to try to get better at doing both. I always look forward to the next ramble!

    • Joseph,
      Thanks so much. You bring up a good point here. We bloggers often roam the sphere and sometimes lose the energy of commenting on worthy sites. I’m guilty of it also. I succumbed to the O Woe is Me syndrome, but I’ve learned something here and won’t get fooled again. You and other fine readers have given me new boots for rambling, and I look forward to your own next post.

  9. Hi Walt!
    Regarding your latest post, I implore you to take heart! If I could get this damn computer to let me leave comments on the blog, rest assured that I’d be adding my two cents…especially since I feel that the last two series, “Canyon and Portal” and “Scottish Ramble” are among your best. “Scottish Ramble” in particular catches my fancy, since a large part of my hertitage is Scots Irish, and Alyssa’s photos of the”auld sod” are amazing. I’ve thought about sending some feedback on the posts via your email, but I’m reluctant to clog up your inbox with comments since that’s basically the dedicated purpose of the blog.
    Above all, I’d like to emphasize that while I read a lot of fly fishing bloggers’ stuff, yours is the only one I subscribe to, and that’s overwhelmingly due to the quality of writing. While lots of blogs have subject matter that’s of interest to me, the narrative sometimes leave a little to be desired. Its refreshing to read a post whose author knows the difference between “your” and “you’re”, “they’re” and “their” and so on (yeah, I’m an ex English major). Bob Bruns over at “Southern Tier Fly Fisher” is the only blogger that can hang with you in the writing department. And as I’ve mentioned before, the content of RR posts might appear to be arcane to the majority of the populace, but it’s of the utmost interest to me. After all, we are fly fishers, and are probably viewed as being somewhat suspect by most folks-and that’s just the way I like it!
    So please Walt, keep up the great work that is “Rivertop Rambles”, and I’m looking foward to fishing with you soon!

    P.S. I’ve often thought while reading RR and seeing the pictures of Captain Beefheart LPs and such, that you might appreciate the blog of a good pal of mine. My buddy Steve is a, well, avid would be an understatement, collector of music. In particular, he’s a fan of vinyl and goes to great lengths to search it out and “rescue” it, hence the name “Vinyl Rescue”. His taste is very catholic, ranging from indie to punk, prog rock to noise, novelty to comedy, and some surprises thrown in. He simply posts pictures of LPs from his collection, almost daily. So here is an unsolicited plug for

    • Bob,
      The above comment is obviously yours, not rivertoprambles. Awesome! I’ll reply to you by email. Things are turned around here, as computer crashed about a day ago and I’m reassembling everything from scratch. Believe me, things are confusing as hell, but hopefully will be straightened out soon!

  10. Rob says:

    Hi Walt,
    Very nice of you to work our ol’ friend’s health concerns into your blog. Had the opportunity to visit w/ him twice during his stay in the hospital in the Lehigh Valley. First time very dire, second time, I said to myself that w/ attention to his health, diet and proper care, he could be soon be back fishing. This getting older means, hopefully, getting wiser. But, as I like to say, if it ain’t falling off, it’s falling apart. My best. Keep up the great writing. I’m a faithful reader and recommend RTR to countless folks who stop in the Shop.

  11. Thanks Rob, and sure do appreciate your putting in a good word for RR at the Shop! Yeah, our ol’ friend really liked the fact that you could visit while he was trying to get back on his feet. Close call! Watching the health is critical, and hopefully that’s priority #1 for him. I don’t think he fly fished enough either. We’ve encouraged him to take one of those 57 fly rods and really exercise it, no excuses. Take a careful slide down the bank of a trout stream, for cryin’ out loud. He’s been lucky in some regards, and hopefully we can all fish Kettle Creek together again in due time. All the best to you and the family!

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