Alright, I’ve taken deep breaths and tried to gain some personal balance. Hitting a bunch of trout streams, old and new, has been helpful, like a pill to ease a migraine.
For months or years, I’ve had a few “bucket list” streams in mind, those thin blue lines on a topographic map that have allured me, and now was a time to make a visit.
I began by traveling to the Pine Creek and the Kettle Creek valleys to park my vehicle and then proceed up these feeder streams in search of wild trout. I’m glad I did; the walks, the casting of a short line with a fly rod helped to clear some pain and confusion.
Walking in a wild place where humanity is little more than a miniaturized ball of madness helps to reinforce my needed balance. Beautiful little brook trout come to hand. The barbless hook is taken from the lip; a silent word of thanks is said; a fish is back in the stream, and I move on.
Walking a thin blue line, I stalk a narrow place between realities, between good and bad, right and wrong, between a world that is strong and bright and one that dwells in darkness, fear and bile.
I thank those little streams I’ve fished for the past two weeks: the small ones like Mill Run and Trout Run, the old familiars like Slate and Cedar, the bigger streams like Fall Creek and Hammersley Fork. I thank them because they’re beautiful and therapeutic for one who searches out and finds some scattered consolation. If I was a religious man, I’d pray for their continued care, the way I might wish the best for disenfranchised peoples everywhere.
Some of what’s messing with my head is the feeling of disgust. I work in the field of education, and our educational system has failed us. Nothing new there. It’s not the best in the world; it’s not the worst. It’s mediocre, and that ain’t good enough. Yeah there’s always been problems, and yeah, progress has been made. It’s not the 1930s anymore, but set-backs happen.
If it sounds like I’m whining, well, it’s just a beery funk. We all made mistakes; I don’t care what side you’re on. My hindsight is consistent with what I believed six months ago. Bernie Sanders is an honorable man.
So I walk the thin blue lines of wildness and see that no walls need construction here, that barriers implode like a worthless dam impeding passage to native fish.
Our nation is divided and that’s the choice we’ve made. I see a surge in the appearance of Confederate flags and Nazi symbols. I don’t mean to imply that everyone who voted for the President-Elect is morally bankrupt. Many good people had good reasons, I’m sure, but let’s face it, a lot of morons have been cleared to exit from their caves. Bigotry and hatred overshadow large portions of what we are about.
If we don’t like the direction in which we’re headed, then non-violent protest makes sense to me. Call me any name you want, but I firmly believe that man and nature are imperiled, and if the election results don’t suit us, this is not a time to shut off the lights and go down easily.
Walking a thin bright line of watery reflection seems helpful. Music is another form of therapy. We just witnessed the passage of another great artist, poet and songwriter, Leonard Cohen. Yeah, the guy who wrote “Hallelujah” and a boatload of other excellent songs, some of which are dark and plaintive, haunting but profoundly inspirational. Here’s one that helped me fish some blue lines just the other day…
By the way, Eric Burdon does an awesome cover of Leonard’s song, in case you’re interested.
Rest in peace, L.C.