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.
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.
This 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.
The 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.