Monday, March 14, 2011

Let the Stream Talk


"There was one older man, an excellent fisher and skilled in all kinds of woodcraft, who was pleased to look upon my house as a building erected for the convenience of fishermen; and I was equally pleased when he sat in my doorway to arrange his lines. Once in a while we sat together on the pond, he at one end of the boat, and I at the other; but not many words passed between us, for he had grown deaf in his later years, but he occasionally hummed a psalm, which harmonized well enough with my philosophy. Our intercourse was thus altogether one of unbroken harmony, far more pleasing to remember than if it had been carried on by speech."         Henry David Thoreau - Walden

Writers and fisherman venture out to the stream, not to listen to one another talk, but to hear nature speak. There's too much yammering going on in the world these days and it would be a great shame to let our all-too-few quiet outdoor moments fall prey to the din. We go out there for the serenity. At least I do.

But I have to acknowledge that we humans are social creatures and conversation inevitably creeps into the picture - particularly on the road or trail to the stream. Talk happens. So, in the event that you and I should share a waterway – and I genuinely hope that some day we do - here are some suggested conversation guidelines:

We can talk about family. We can talk about our jobs. Happily, I’ll let you do all the talking there. We can talk about women, but be forewarned that I don’t understand them at all. We can talk about what’s for lunch.

We can talk about sports, but not if you’re a Cowboys, or a Yankees, fan. We can talk about the cool cars we’ve owned over the years. We can talk about our wild rock-and-roll days, at least those that we can remember. We can talk about what a bitch it is getting older.

We can talk about conservation, but please, not about politics. We can talk about the weather and what’s the story there, anyway? We can talk about spirituality, but only in the context of our profound connection to the stream within which we stand and the fish we’re here to celebrate.

Or we can talk about beer.

But ultimately, we can talk not at all. A simple hand signal to move upstream. A knowing nod of the head towards a promising cut bank. A smile and a hearty thumbs-up upon the release of another nice brown. That will be enough.

Actually, that will be perfect.

9 comments:

Cofisher said...

Another reason why I like Mike. Very well said my friend. Now I'll shut up and fish...

Ken Gortowski said...

Beautifully said Mike. Add this . . .
We can talk about how not all bass anglers are neanderthals and can appreciate, and sometimes pen, well turned phrases.

bloy said...

I go as much for the serenity as for the fishing.

Dan Short said...

Very nicely done Mike. If you're ever up my way, I'd be happy to shut up and share a stream with you.

Mike said...

Don't worry Cofisher, I'll listen to you anytime.

Damn straight, Ken. You I rite pretty two.

Amen Barry.

The pleasure would be mine, Dan, and the offer goes both ways.

AYearOnTheFly said...

An artist of words. Nicely done Mike. I like the Walden to start it off. Classic!

Fish0nnn said...

I just can't help myself from getting soo excited when I trick a good sized LMB on a fly I made...
But I'd be willing to put duct tape over my yapper for a chance to go fly fishing with you on your stream any day :-)

Mike said...

Thanks Joel. The rhythms in Thoreau's language are simply magic.

P-Mac, No need for the duct tape - though it might be amusing to see. Some things are simply worth hooting about and a good bucketmouth on a "home tie" certainly qualifies. As for fishing my stream, pick a day!

Anonymous said...

Some of my favorite days fishing were watching a good friend catch steelhead after steelhead in Erie, PA as I sat on the bank smoking a good cigar.

I also love helping my wife and grown kids fish and watching them reel in small cats on Jordan Lake.

Good stuff.