Water Lines

I hadn’t been fishing in a while and felt the need to reconnect. We’ve been working on the house all year, and some of the wettest months on record have produced poor opportunities for being on the water. Still, I needed reconnection with an earth mother dwelling in the clay and ferns, among the spruce and birch, beneath the river pools and riffles. I imagined that her late-year loveliness or her reptile countenance were tantamount to Time itself…

We needed to replace an ancient water line between the hillside spring and the plumbing in our basement. Digging out the long trench, draining the springhouse reservoir, we fixed the old connections, straightened out 200 feet of plastic line, backfilled tons of muddy clay, and let the water rise again to meet our needs with gravity’s permission…

Work aside, I track small animals that complement my being. Salamanders cold beside December rocks near the springhouse. Moles and field mice looking for an exit from the frost and thickening ice. Raccoons and foxes denning behind the barn. And trout– I could live with brook trout gathered in my reservoir of dreams! I track small animals, as if to balance a skewed totality, to speak with them and know them as my own.

5 December brown…
Mired in the mud, the Cat couldn’t come back– till rescued by Excavator…

The reconnection has its hurdles. Weather can be uncooperative. Machinery can bog down or destroy the gentle mystery. The flow can kick the ass of expectation! But completed, there is dialogue… I hear quiet words between a wild fish and an angler. Lines of poetry or prose in past and present time. A burst of exclamation! An exchange between a dream and a wakeful moment… Water lines.

contemplating old Red Wing shoe ad while in muddy boots!
upper Allegheny River, 12/5/21
autumn sycamore…
Fall Creek, Ithaca….

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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17 Responses to Water Lines

  1. Brent says:

    That water line work is an even more radical undertaking than I had imagined. You’ll have to tell me more about how it all went when I see you next–hopefully on Sunday! If all goes well, you’ll be seeing the other end of the Allegheny within days, although it might not be as enjoyable for casting a line (the line that’s not for transporting drinking water, of course).

  2. alex55manta says:

    Did the digger with the bucket get stuck in the mud (the Kubota)? I’m referring to that second picture of it digging in-line with the general direction of the waterline I think. It looks like it’s tracks dug right down parallel to the trench and appears to be ever so slightly askew – not sitting upright perfectly. I’m glad you got out and got that brown! That has to recharge you a bit I’d think, each and every time you get one. I’d think it would be a good prescription at the very least 😉 ! I don’t believe I’ll be attempting to fill any such prescription until next March. Gravity fed spring water eh? Hope you can heat that up a bit before a bath as I have got to believe that it must be getting pretty chilly this time of year (the temperature of the spring water)! Wow! Have a great Holiday RTR & Family! UB

    • Thanks Dr. Alex! No, the bulldozer is the critter that got stuck in deep mud & clay & had to be extricated by the excavator digging those parallel lines… Big job but glad it’s done. Cold water gets heated in the house… A life line, that water. And yeah, even a hatchery trout in winter streams will suffice at times like this… Thanks, UB, and best wishes up your way.

  3. Greetings. Which fish are your favorites to eat? Trout? My faves are cod and salmon.

  4. plaidcamper says:

    You’ve had some challenging days there, Walt! Glad you got it sorted, straightened out the line and found some time to deliver written lines on the now less skewed totality. Here’s wishing you less complicated days ahead!

  5. loydtruss says:

    Anytime one is dealing with water lines it is major and this job certainly qualifies. You and I deserve a break from the misery this year has produced with our trout fishing. Hopefully, better fishing is ahead for us in the New Year. Hope you all have a Merry Christmas! Thanks for sharing

  6. Bob Stanton says:

    “I could live with brook trout gathered in my reservoir of dreams!” Brother, for my money, that is one of the most beautiful lines you’ve written! Laid up with the Covid as of yesterday, so I’ve got plenty of time and no excuses to fill my flower boxes for next year.

    • Oh… man, and you’ve been in the trenches all the time with what you do… So sorry you’re under it, Bob, but I’m hoping that your symptoms are no worse than my own when I got hit last fall. Take it easy during the isolation, bro, and I wish you well!

    • alex55manta says:

      Dear Mr. Stanton, Our common friend here at RTR (RiverTop Rambles) had forwarded me the recipe to the ‘Bleeding Heart’ a year or so ago. I proceeded to attempt to tie a few and a variant (with a somewhat olive cast) which I forwarded to Mr. RTR. I believe Mr. RTR had fished these out West somewhere and had gotten a hit .. but I’m not sure he got the fish to hand. The thing is, I recognize that your recipe for the ‘Bleeding Heart’ is a worthy fly to tie and fish. You NEED to know this and to deal with the current situation and move forward, and wade the gentle or more challenging waters and fish the heck out of that tie! I wish you a speedy recovery and many more years of tying and fishing that fly and any other fly you wish to fish. Please take care Mr. Stanton and get well soon. UB

      • I’ll vouch for Dr. UB’s Bleeding Heart productions (thanks to Bob’s recipe) as a wonderful prescription for a quick recovery. By the way, UB, I have a new book scheduled to appear in March, and there’s a story behind all this that gets related therein. We can all look forward to that!

      • alex55manta says:

        Doesn’t seem that I can reply to you RTR…. but I see your response. I can only plea for or ask kindly for advance copy, however I will subscribe, purchase, buy, barter, haggle or otherwise contract to acquire such an advance of such publication. March… MARCH.. heck I’ll be back in SR by March.. maybe end of eh? Gosh RTR (Walt) I sincerely wish you and your family a great Holiday season. And I look forward to the new publication! I’ll keep an eye out for it for certain. I’m already looking forward… to next season. I know I have to do better then last season. I already know I need to make up for last. I fully intend to try to tie a lot, take pictures and post as much as I can this winter. Time shall tell. RTR… Walt… & family… 🙂 wishing you the best… UB

  7. Jet Eliot says:

    What a big job…ugh…but so necessary. I enjoyed your words and thoughts, Walt, as you took us through this challenging project. I especially liked the paragraph about tracking small animals. Cheers, my friend, to getting this job completed…and the beautiful land you live on.

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