A Burnin’ Barrel Monologue

“I remember when it wasn’t so easy getting there. We didn’t have a nice road along the crik. Had to come up out of Cross Fork, or else hike down along the Hogback on that path… what’s it called, the Ripshin Trail? I don’t know, but it was pretty wild back then. I used to love it though. We’d go fishin’ for a week sometimes or just camp-out for a night or two– the world would disappear! Ah yeah, that was back before all these bottles got the better of me.

“So, what were you guys doin’ with a chainsaw? Tryin’ to unleash canopy trout in the cherry trees? Ha! I’ve heard those fish can swim or fly. Build nests up in the air come autumn time. Or maybe you were clearing out the wreckage of a Splinter Cat? Yeah, Splinter Cat. Destructive feline. Gotta watch for those critters. They’ll smash down an oak or maple for a beehive or a sleepy raccoon.

“It’s certainly been a wet year. The fishing has sucked. So much rain that my pores have sprouted watercress. And the frogs are sportin’ life-preservers on their backs! No kidding. And just the opposite of a year ago. So hot and dry that summer, hiking in the forest. Who’d have thought the fish would swim right up and greet you on the trail, through the dust! Aargh, just drought or flood, it seems… That’s why I’m drinking.

“Well, I’ll be the leapin’ trout of waters! Cleared trail and then went fishing, huh? The trout were pretty scarce, I’ll bet. November sky looks warm and fuzzy, but the water’s got to be pretty damn cold… You probably seen the Hogback, right? Wooded slopes up near the mountaintop. Hogback… You’d think some homestead pigs got fat and left the farm, got stuck between the mountain walls until they thinned out and could move again.

“And comin’ out of Short Run, did you see all them sheep there in the fields? Quite a flock. Actually that used to be a macaroni farm until, oh, about World War II… when the farm wives lost their help– the guys who bored out the pasta holes. And no more spaghetti on the side. They used to cut it from the macaroni borings. Anyway, that’s all history now. I guess raisin’ sheep is a whole lot easier… Hey Lucy! Give these guys another round, on me. I gotta go.”

king salmon, 10/21
Ontario trib…
home ground…
home falls…
Genesee, 11/7/21

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!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Burnin’ Barrel Monologue

  1. alex55manta says:

    A Brookie and a King – wow! A beautiful image of a stream there RTR – 2 images above the King! I guess Fall has finally decided to unleash itself it looks like, there and pretty much everywhere. Heading back Thursday – have some work to do on ‘the bank’. Hopefully all these sunny days aren’t totally behind us but, my luck, I’m guessing it’ll rain and be in the 40’s for the next 2 weeks. Take care RTR – great post. UB

    • Thanks UB! Some rare sunshine recently has allowed some color on the hills around us, the last of the foliage, with premonitions of further change. Wouldn’t mind hanging on to it a little longer. Image of the stream is from the Cross Fork watershed.

  2. Brent says:

    Overheard in a bar? Or creative writing exercise? Either way, it was a fun way to read the news, and a little history. All the water still looks very full, from the home creek to the lake tributaries.

  3. plaidcamper says:

    Ha! I know a guy just like that. Anyway, pour me another, and tell me more! Great tales, well told – thanks, Walt!

  4. Bob Stanton says:

    Classic Pennsyltucky yarn spinnin.

  5. Don T. says:


    Really enjoyed this post. And yes, the fishing sucked this year, but we’ll be back next year.

  6. loydtruss says:

    Walt, we go from extreme weather conditions from year to year now. It has rained so much here that the generators below Smith Dam have run most of the spring, summer, and fall. My last trout fishing trip on the Sipsey was in August. Hopefully, the fishing will start to improve for both of us in the coming months. Impressed with the images, especially the stream image—thanks for sharing

    • Bill, I think we’d better brace for the worst and hope for something better. You’re right, it’s been one extreme to the other, and it seems to be happening everywhere you look. It’s taking a toll, and I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Anyway, all the best for a brighter season.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.