Uncomfortably Numb

Numbed by recent world events, all I can say is stand with the down-trodden and maybe also lend a moment to John Steinbeck’s thought, “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” And as we read, how about this from writer, Ray Bradbury, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

Numbed by a peculiar feeling emanating from within myself and from distant lands, I still managed to enjoy a recent visit with my son and his wife at Cook State Forest in western Pennsylvania. The old-growth forest with its stately pine and hemlock trees uplifted our spirits even as the ice-clad trails kept us sliding on our keisters. Later, I could fortify a springtime hope for peace with words revisited in my new book Learning the Terrain:

“…When I walk or fish along a run, it’s possible that everything outside of this small place will fall away. Goodbye, news of the world. Farewell, financial woes. See you later, friends, as well as screwball enemies… For the purity of the moment, for its sheer simplicity, I have something that is almost sacred. If the stream could talk, it just might tell me something about who I am and where I am headed.

“I cast in the quiet company of streams and see that the waters of Earth move systematically. The brook trout gets connected with the wood duck that is connected to the forest that’s connected to the trout lily blossoming at its feet. There is distance here, but the place is also close and intimate…

“… When I heard of the death and mayhem, I took solace in the creek. I fished it, knowing that the stream would comfort me and lighten the load. It did not spit in my face or take any side at all. It favored no religion or political agenda, no one theory or belief. The creek was simply there, cold, and flowing bank to bank, clear and tumbling toward the distant bay.

“The stream was there to embrace me if I wanted it to care. It was there to reject me if I got in its way. I stood in its waters feeling like the young musician who towed a grand piano to a site of death and terror. Towed it with a bike! The fellow could not raise the dead or heal the injured, but his playing helped to soothe the pain for a bit…”

Music. Literature. The Effort. Please contribute where you can.

available @ Amazon & Wood Thrush Books…
in many places, trails were sheer ice…
Leighanne, w/ hemlock or pine…

wondrous, Cook State Forest….
springtime hope, March Brown, by Scott Cornett.

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 Uncomfortably Numb

  1. Bob says:

    I visit The Cathedral often, and you should really try to visit that area and the Clarion a little later in the year – it’s an incredible trout fishery and one of Pennsylvania’s best kept secrets.

    • Bob, we mentioned you yesterday in context of those hemlock trees and talked a bit of visiting again in later spring. I’ll bet the warbler migration would be interesting then, and one of PA’s “best kept secrets” would be worth investigation, as well. I’ve fished the East Fork once and know there’s more to be seen!

  2. UB says:

    Looks like it was a real treacherous hike with the ice. I think my hips would have complained for a couple of days after it. Great picture of the MB. UB

    • Thanks, UB. Yeah, your hips might have complained for tackling those trails. We did a lot of slipping & sliding (except for Brent), and my legs are complaining today for the fun we had.

  3. There’s always somebody to disrupt peoples’ lives, to deny freedoms, to bring hate to the surface, etc. These are bad times. Putin eats it.

  4. Brent Franklin says:

    I’m glad we discovered this great spot for a “halfway point” meetup, and hopefully next time it will be much easier on everyone’s bodies.

    PS: For any other RR readers who have read his other books, this one looks like it won’t disappoint (and the cover may be the nicest yet!).

  5. tiostib says:

    Uncomfortably numb is a fitting description of my own emotional situation. Thanks for sharing your feelings.

  6. Bob Stanton says:

    I’m elated that you made it to Cook Forest!!! Amazing place, isn’t it? A walk through there (panting, uphill) always quells whatever turmoil is in my soul.

    • Bob, I know you’ve hiked those trails quite a bit, and I look forward to experiencing more of those amazing “cathedral groves” in the months ahead when I’m hopefully more physically attuned!

  7. plaidcamper says:

    Looks a good hike, if tricky in late winter conditions! Tough times again – or as usual? – for so many, and I like the lines you shared about the indifference or unperturbed presence of the creek/nature in the face of human concerns.
    Stay well and not too numb, Walt!

  8. loydtruss says:

    The world we live in now is so fragile, caused by our own inability to recognize the effects of climate change—-and how to deal with a putin psychopath—-his name doesn’t deserve a capital letter!!
    Thanks for sharing

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