I have a new book of poetry just released from FootHills Publishing in Kanona, New York. From the High Hills to the Bay is a 72-page hand-sewn book with spine– pretty cool, even though I understand that poetry is not a favorite genre for most of us. But modern poetry doesn’t have to be abstract and unemotional, out-of-touch or lacking good sense. Take one poem, for example, the book’s “Common Sense is Like Running Water”:
When straying from the path without/ A compass, even the game trails fade./ In dense fog and fern, the beauty/ Of a wilderness ridge is palpable/ But mind and map sing different tunes./ The notion to get back before/ Darkness overwhelms your heart/ Slowly fills the mind and takes/ A crazed possession of the peace/ You sought and found. Forgotten facts:/ Common sense is like running water./ In each hollow lies the brook/ Whose flowing song will lead you home.
My wife and I recently visited Moss Lake, a remnant of the glacial age, in the Allegheny foothills of New York. Moss Lake is a classic kettle bog with open water and a quaking mat. There is no feeder stream or outflow to the lake. The water’s 12-foot depth covers another 12-foot depth of peat (the incomplete decomposition of plant matter). The lake’s original 24-foot depth of water is slowly filling with decayed vegetation resulting in low levels of dissolved oxygen and a high acidic value.
Since acidic water inhibits bacteria from breaking down and fully decomposing plant matter, Moss Lake has little of the nutrients typically found in freshwater ecosystems. In place of our common wetland species, the lake has insectivorous pitcher plants and sundews that flourish on the bog mat. These carnivorous species can be studied from a boardwalk, courtesy of The Nature Conservancy that monitors the water and its forested margins.
No stream flows in or out of Moss Lake but its stillness brims with wild nature. For many outdoor people, a meandering flow (along with lakes and oceans) is easier to relate to than a bogged-down ecosystem laden with insect-eating plants. But all of these forms are good; they’re all essential elements of life on Earth. Like literature and its varied genres, these creations can invite us to a realm of beauty and enjoyment.
Flowing water always seems to beckon. Just before a recent evening on the stream, my friend Tim pointed out an osprey nest overlooking the Conhocton River Valley. We would soon be near the river’s tinted pools and riffles. I would note the arrowhead plants directing thoughts to the world of trout. We would cast our flies and have some luck, and then, just before dusk, move downstream into the darkness. From there, we would fish until the midnight stars and fireflies winked their messages of sleep.
I had recently finished reading about E.R. Hewitt, a noted Catskill Mountains angler, author and conservationist, whose name is linked to the historic Neversink River. Hewitt is known for having created the Neversink Skater and Bivisible dry fly patterns, among a host of other accomplishments. Just before our fishing venture, Tim supplied me with a couple of Neversink Skaters he had tied, even though I hadn’t mentioned anything about Hewitt and his fly creations.
Friends are like that on occasion. They appear like flowing water when your senses get turned around by the confusion in the world. The Neversink Skater settles on my river space and I’ll give it time to drift. The flies are tied on a small hook, and their hackle is unusually long. Tim advises using a stouter tippet, say a 3x diameter rather than a 5x, so the hook settles toward the surface of the water.
So we skate off on the warming surface of the summer… If you’re interested in adding “From the High Hills…” to your library, you can order from FootHills Publishing ($16), or you can get a signed copy from me– just send your street address and request to my email, franklinL3@yahoo.com. I thank you one and all!