The Crossing

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.  –Thomas PaineOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All of the recent rain had made the anglers hopeful and raring to hit Fall Creek on a Saturday morning but, alas, the fish hadn’t yet heard the call. For the most part, the landlocked salmon and brown trout continued to idle in the big lake. It’s said that anglers are a part of nature but, thankfully, nature is a whole lot larger and smarter than we are when it comes to sensibly answering the call of reproduction.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI practiced my downstream swing of the line and leader, pretty much losing hope for success before my first half mile of wading was complete. It was a little sad because the water was flowing full and beautiful. The anglers thinned out quickly and, before I knew it, there were just a few of us still at the game. All was not lost, however. It felt rather pleasant to be casting futilely in the presence of Ithaca Falls, one of my favorite sites for viewing tumultuous water.

The next day I was hoping to return to Pennsylvania for brook trout, but the rain put a lid on that idea, as well, as the streams rose quickly and wore a cape of mud. I decided to try a rainy hill hike near my house and throw myself into climbing mode.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But something felt lacking. I was starting up my sixth year of Rivertop Rambles and, at this point, didn’t feel as if there was anything new to add for an upcoming post. I don’t like repeating myself unless I have a damn good reason for doing so. If I can’t find a new angle or perspective for a post, then it’s probably time to pack it up and shake the hand of silence.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

God knows we could use a little more quiet in this crazy cacophonous world…But I wasn’t despairing, by any means. At my age, I’ve come to understand that each new day of a healthy life on earth is a cause for celebration. You never cross the same rivertop twice. Each crossing of the stream is a new experience. At first glance, the place may look the same, but down below the riffles there, down at the bottom of the little pool, there’s a different world still waiting to be explored, perhaps whispering an invitation to jump in and tell about it in another post….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My hike in the rain was a pleasant one, even if nothing “new” occurred.

I crossed familiar ground and saw it in a rich October light. The summit pond was comforting; the old thresher in the woods was like a monument to a time now sadly passed. As I made a slow descent toward home, I thought about the upcoming elections in America…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We’ve got a guy heading to trial for fraud and child-rape, who denies global warming and who dreams of white-washing society, who would nuke the crazies of another land, whose running mate doesn’t even believe in evolution… and yet… there’s those pesky emails out in cyberspace that a WOMAN candidate may or may not have sent….Now there’s a reason for a nation to go completely off its nut.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was feeling sick, like finding trash deliberately scattered in an otherwise pristine location. I looked to the fading colors of the rain-wet leaves. If THEY crossed over into this world, who would they endorse? If the deer that leapt out from the woods in front of me crossed over to this human world to vote for highest office, who would benefit? And for that matter, what about the trout? You might fool them with an artificial fly, but they’re no dummies, if given the chance to help select an honest representative.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking at the broader picture of a life immersed in nature, I was feeling much improved…

Like imagining how baseball wins when, at last, the Windy City Cubs become world champions in the most dramatic way.Image result for chicago cubs logoOLYMPUS 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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29 Responses to The Crossing

  1. harryalston says:

    Best time of year to take photographs, I especially like the wheel buried in leaves.

  2. Thanks Harry. I agree, And the wheel is kind of suggestive, isn’t it…

  3. Bob Stanton says:

    Purty pictures, Walt, and I’ve got to tell you, next Tuesday is causing me much anxiety. Can’t wait for it to be over, and hopefully the outcome is favorable. If not, guess I’m moving to Canada. Or live in the woods.

    • The sense of desperation and anxiety has spread across the world, I guess, and it’ll sure feel good if we wake up Wednesday on the best side of dawn but, for me, it may be with something of a hangover, too. Thanks Bob.

  4. Very impessive photographs! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Les Kish says:

    Awesome colors Walt. And, silky waterfall shots are always a favorite. Even if you’re at a loss for subject matter, you can’t beat a nice photo, or several (even if it’s something that you’ve shot before).

  6. Brent says:

    This post captures so much of what I’ve been feeling lately. First, the sense that I don’t know what I want to write about for my own little corner of the blogosphere. I have some ideas kicking around, but they’re either only half-baked or I don’t have the heart to further develop them at this point. And that brings me to the election anxiety, which has been making me feel truly sick of late. No matter the outcome, I don’t think we’ll be able to fully salve the wounds that this chapter of our history has created. Thanks for putting these thoughts out there.

    (By the way, not sure if you caught Bob’s sympathetic comment above–it didn’t have a response aligned with it).

    • Brent,
      For bloggers like ourselves who depend on quality narrative, I think it’s natural to feel blocked at times. Usually I just sit on a notion till it grows and demands a fuller statement or it fizzles out. Either way, it’s best not to rush it till it feels right. As for election anxiety, we needn’t feel alone. We’ve probably got nothing to worry about except for the healing process which may be hopeless for the short run.
      P.S. Yeah I caught Bob’s sympathetic comment but messed up the response alignments. Thanks!

  7. plaidcamper says:

    Walt, I hope you’re not ready to be shaking the hand of silence just yet – I would sorely miss what you have to say, and you always say it so well. Sometimes you might question if what you’re putting out there has meaning, but trust me, it does. Big ideas hidden in small details, and it is always a delight to read and ponder. That’s my pitch over, and I do hear what you are saying about not wanting it to get old or stale. You’re not.
    Your photographs are tremendous, and the wheel is saying something…
    Thanks for another great post, and here’s to waking with a happy hangover next Wednesday! (And if the unthinkable happens, there’s that warm Canadian welcome for those in need of it!)

  8. JZ says:

    Nature provides plenty of chances for day-dreaming Walt and count me in as a day-dream believer. Everybody views the world through a different lens. It is the person behind the lens who interprets what they see through their unique experiences. Wrong or right, we have come to a crossroads in society. We either push forward and make substantive gain or continue too spin our rusty wheels and get stuck as your picture wonderfully depicts. I choose to follow the dirt road, like I did yesterday. Fishing Cedar Run with a friend helped clean the cobb webs and brought perspective. It is the ultimate reboot, though tired this morning.
    There, most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, though some have resisted and have hung tough. The surprise, for me, was the under-brush. It was on fire and splashed color a blaze as you glanced across the landscape. Mixed colors also were the story to why I was there, fishing for the brook. There new fall suites suited them well. They were decked out in color enjoying the new volume of cold clean water. I was happy as a song bird to be found in there church and sing there hymn. I’m looking forward to a new mass next week, praying for a new rejuvenated spirit post election. Perhaps after, even magical, that old sunken wheel will begin to turn and work like it should….Lets hope.

    • Wonderful thoughts, JZ, thanks much! Indeed, we’ve come to a crossroads in our social evolution to this point. I’ll head down to the Pine Creek Valley this weekend and hope the brook trout fishing helps to clear the dirty webs implanted in my thoughts by all political nonsense, and I’m sure it’ll do some good. I’m glad you’re getting up to Cedar Run and enjoying the autumn scenes to be found in a pristine environment. November brooks are a perfect medicine; the autumn mountains provide great therapy. Yeah, let’s hope the old sunken wheel will soon be lifted from the quagmire and we travel down a healthier road.

  9. Awesome photos Walt and how about those Cubbies?

  10. Jet Eliot says:

    Lovely autumnal photos, Walt.

  11. Glad you like these, Jet. Thank you.

  12. Great post. I hear what you’re saying abot worrying about repeating yourself. It’s the great struggle for those who write, no matter how long you’ve been at it. The beauty of it all, though, is that every adventure is different. Even if you’re retracing your steps for the millionth time, you’re not getting the same experience. You notice different things, you catch see different creatures, you catch different fish and, best of all, you come back with different words.

    • You nail it there, Douglas, the gist of the experienced writer’s dilemma; the angler crossing the same stream twice but seeing much more than repetition. It’s a comforting comment, actually, and I thank you for it!

  13. rommel says:

    Your most impressive nature setting to date. I could stare at that waterfalls for hours. Troppo Bella!

  14. Doug says:

    Beautiful group of photos Walt. I also understand dry-spells intimately. I spent 2 days this week on my daily walks with a bag to pick up trash the lazy assholes that ignorantly and purposely couldn’t take on home with them to put in the proper trash or recycle. Back brace on , bag in hand and glove to pick up the trash, I filled one trash bag complete and another partial because I got pissed about these idiots just not giving a shit. I went down into gutters,, an impossible task for a wrecked back for a mile and a half. The country road I live on , or any roadside for that matter should never be treated like a dump site. At least now I can take my walks in peace knowing that my small stretch is back in it’s lush, green glory. Thanks for posting the photos and not giving me a sense that my efforts were not in vain.

    • Thanks for the comment, Doug, and for taking on the largely thankless job of picking trash thrown out by the self-absorbed a’holes. It’s not an easy task, especially with a rough back but, if you feel as I do when the bag is full, you know that some good has been done, if only for little while. I’ve been picking up discarded shit, recyclable and otherwise, for all my years in this place, and only sometimes does it feel as though we’re making progress.

  15. JZ says:

    I stopped by the local pond yesterday. I could feel a cold breeze as I gazed over the slate grey water. Strangely though, the surface remained calm even while the tall grass swayed. Perhaps the fish were waiting for something I pondered. I walked around it’s banks thinking of the many fun filled days spent here catching fish. I’m looking forward to future days ahead with an even more determined enthusiasm. Leaving, I glanced back, got in my car and drove away. A fly fishers hope never leaves…

    • JZ, thanks for this reflection from a local pond. The image is reassuring at a time like this, and if we take the time to peer down into the depths, we might see not only fish but hope and peace, small ripples that extend to waters far away…

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