Getting My Green Back

I’d like to say that when the going gets tough, the tough go fishing, but I wasn’t feeling all that confident of late. With the world changing so rapidly in recent hours, though, I did go fishing. Yes. The sky was blue; the air temp was climbing into the comfort zone. State forest-lands were calling; the society of trees and flowing waters beckoned. But like nearly everyone else, I was feeling vulnerable, seeing the dark side to the social and economic closures that were happening globally and here at home.

My fifth-graders learning about maple syrup production at Watson Homestead…

the old-fashioned way…

Sure, the social distancing strategy being employed to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus comes easily to an old rambler like myself. Although I’ve been a teacher and public servant for ages, the natural world has been my master, and the great society of trees and soil and water has always made it rather easy to obtain that “social distance” everyone is talking about today.

a sweet deal…

wonder if breathing that maple steam is good for fighting viruses…

With so many people staying home, traveling less and maybe even consuming less (now that shelves of toiletry, alcohol, meat, and other items are pretty much cleared), the Earth’s environment may be cleaner than it was a week ago. Perhaps the planet is trying to tell us something that we really need to hear. If so, I doubt that many of us are actually paying attention. But I’m heading up the trail with a fly rod in hand, thinking of current events and feeling not so tough.

…going bananas… Wegman’s was selling ’em as fast as the shelves could be refilled…

…of course. the toiletry shelves were empty…

should’ve stocked up with more of this…

School is out for a good long while. My wife is working at home; the kids are fine, but I worry about what happens to the marginalized– to the homeless and elderly, to the small business owners and hourly wage-earners, to the care-providers, to mention a few. I want to keep things in perspective and not allow my own concerns to override the dangers of the virus itself.

more balloon litter in the wilds… help prevent these launches!

Two miles from the road, I’m in the thick of it– among the hemlock, maple, cherry, oak, and birch, and the madness is removed for now. Ah, the great society of trees and wild creatures, even if the fish do not cooperate. I’m out there doing my part to hold things down. No social hysteria, no toilet paper jokes, no hand-washing obsession till my knees give out and tell me to return.

Before school was cancelled, I was working to create a short story with one of my little fourth-graders. Old gray Sam the Shamrock was feeling the winter blahs– sick to death of the cold polluted city. Finally, Sam decided he could do something to improve his life. He quit complaining about his boredom and started helping out his brethren in their tiny urban plot. They picked up trash; they partied, and they taught each other how to care… Yep, the sun grew stronger, bit by bit, and old gray Sam began to… green once more.

mossy mount…

The sap was flowing skyward through the tree roots, up the trunk and out to each red bud. The green was coming through.

[Speaking of green, if you haven’t yet seen my new one and would like to help out the cause of independent nature writing and small-press publishing, check it out via my “About” page for ordering info. Thank you, folks, and be well.]

a Susquehannock rivertop…

the Salvelinus Soul Shop… opening soon…


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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16 Responses to Getting My Green Back

  1. Scott Cornett says:

    Hi Walt,
    Thanks for the vicarious fishing trip and thoughts on the current state of human craziness we are all trying to navigate. Sorry the TU meeting did not work out. Catch up with you sometime, hopefully before long! And I now have time to get well into your new book.


    • Hey Scott,
      You’re welcome, and thank you! Had been hoping all was well the other night, and you were just playing it safe & smart. Let’s cross our tippets & hope for a better season soon.

  2. Larry Roush says:
    March 17, 2020 at 11:52 pm (Edit)
    Love the picture with the Orvis Superfine rod, one of my favorites too. Larry

  3. Jet Eliot says:

    Wonderful to hear your activities and thoughts during this crisis, Walt. Enjoyed the photos very much, espec. your students. It is fortunate we have the outdoors and nature to soothe us. Of all your beautiful words today, these are my favorites: “the society of trees and flowing waters beckoned.” My best to you, and many thanks for this moment of peace.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The waters know not what worries men (or cares)… do they? 😉

    • UB, Some of the local waters strongly denounce the “current” administrative policies, others seem to eddy ’round a total indifference to our watershed of cares. Either way, I’ll fish them all in season.

  5. plaidcamper says:

    Thanks for this piece, Walt. Aside from the more obvious threats of the virus itself, there’ll be lots to unpack in the coming months. I’ve laughed off social distancing, seeing, like yourself, a number of personal benefits there. I do worry about the impact on young ones. School is more than a place they go to get education, or perhaps people will realize education is more than simply the academics. Your pictures with your students highlight what educators do for their charges. There’ll be hidden and not so hidden social/emotional/health issues emerging as kids miss the supports of school. Sad times…
    On a more positive note, yes, more time out and about in wildish places for some, and a chance to enjoy that.
    Anyway, I hope you can find a supply of decent beer as and when needed! Take care.

    • Well said, Adam. As a teacher yourself, you know that many of us are, essentially, in the mental health business to some degree and realize that “social/emotional/health issues” will emerge from these changes, and our work will always be on-going. Thank you.

  6. Bob Stanton says:

    Social distancing will not be much of a problem for me, either. In fact, when this measure was recommended, I was reminded of and feel sympatico with Steinbeck’s quote about the Great Depression, paraphrased: “The Depression didn’t particularly bother me, because I’d been preparing for the Depression for a long time.” Truth.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Very nice Walt.
    Good for you that you’re still teaching and sharing of yourself.

  8. Brent says:

    I’m quite relieved that you and mom are both now better positioned to ride this out, with vaccinations and work contingencies. Mental health experts definitely recommend social distancing in nature, whenever possible, and the infectious disease folks seem to think that there’s little risk as long as people stay apart from each other. I plan to take advantage whenever I can.

    On another note, the booze might be short but you managed to snag a beer (Hop Slam) that disappears from the shelves in our area less than an hour after it’s stocked–even in more ordinary times! That’s a lucky find.

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