The Grouse & Yellow
I place a small #14 wet fly hook in the vise, tie in thread and wrap a strand of yellow silk. A wrap of peacock herl for a thorax, a wrap or two of English grouse for legs, and that will do it. With just a hook– a thin metal line– for trout, and with the history in the pattern of the fly, I’m almost there.
Bootleg Hollow Creek
At the sanctuary of a creek, I see a line dividing my domestic life from the wild. I’m drawn to nature’s indefinable edge, a refuge that invites the wanderer like a beautiful cathedral or a mosque that draws the holy to their knees. Wildness is a vapor I inhale above the waters. There’s a balance here between the peace of wild things and the violence of eat-or-be-eaten. There is health.
To hold a native trout for just a moment is to touch the wildness of a soul. Communion occurs whenever one species gives of itself to another. There’s communication of a sort. Wildness can be sacred, with a beautiful and horrific aspect. Arguments, like nature vs. religion, fall aside, thank god.
Walking the Line
My words form a line that walks across the paper or the screen, creating an edge land of the place I inhabit. I call the place my soul terrain. Here the primitive, the ordinary, and the magical aspects of creation have a chance to mix and meld. The words can be about the nature of nature writing, and since they’ll interpret my limited experience in the world, I strive to keep them clear and basic. If I’m lucky I’ll have lines that parallel original experience, as a river path will follow the banks of a river I am fishing. The word “nature” stems from the Latin natura, to be born, and in a sense I get reborn when my words about the outside realm begin to straighten up and walk the line.
When the world is too much with me and I feel the need to reconnect with nature, I’ll embark on a small excursion into forest, stream or marsh. In as much as modern life divides and scatters personality, immersion in the solitude of nature can unite the fragments once again. In the overlap of psyche and environment, I open up to plant and animal and earth. My writing will attempt to map the place where I’ve been.
With the day’s temperature peaking at 18 degrees (F.), I joined the dwindling ranks of deer hunters on a walk along the upper river. I looked at the walk as a mapping process, a meditation on fragmented thought and feeling, a way of finding some scattered parts and piecing them together.
I walked for a mile along the darkly flowing river. Other than a few birds, such as junco, cardinal, and crow, I didn’t see much in the way of wildlife. On the river road, however, I found a dead ruffed grouse. The bird had been freshly killed. I carefully removed some feathers for the tying of flies.
The Ruffy’s back feathers are reminiscent of Hungarian partridge. The male’s black ruff is a useful material. I had soft-hackles and nymphs in mind. I would check out patterns such as Grouse & Flash, Breadcrust, and Skwunk. The thin lines of natural separation were getting rounded. Life is full of circles.