Thursday, February 22, 2018

Fish don't read books!

Winter's winding down but not finished with us yet. We learned this morning it's affecting us more than we realized. After clearing up some financial questions in St. Paul so we can dutifully file our taxes, we stopped by Bob Mitchell's Fly Shop on Vandalia Street. Among other questions we discussed with Rhea and Hazel was how to figure out what's living in our multitude of fly boxes. Rhea asked why we wanted to do that, and we mentioned our aspirations to logic and orderliness. Rhea astutely noted that "fish don't read books." Hazel nodded in agreement and we had to admit that we have often complained that fish (and deer, and grouse, and...) didn't read the same books we did. We had never shortened it to the recognition of how things might change if we proceeded from the premise that fish don't read books at all.

North Country trout stream
North Country trout stream
Photo by J. Harrington

Some of the best advice about how and why to go fishing involves not hurrying, spending time observing what's going on around you, and being attentive to what's going on in the stream. Among all the other flotsam and jetsam we've found in trout streams over the years, hatch charts and aquatic entomology references were never among the debris. Fish don't read books. Fish feed on something or other depending on what's hatching, drifting or otherwise catching the attention of hungry fish.

from "Open House for Butterflies"

There are other whole schools of thought about humans needing language and words and names to comprehend reality as we encounter it. There is no doubt an element of truth to those thoughts, but, perhaps, we have lost our sense of proportion and balance in thinking we could substitute reading for reality. At least with warmer weather coming, and the promise of waters opening up and flowing, we'll be able to more readily spend less time in a chair on our butt and more time on our feet in or near a stream. We've reached the point where reality needs to replace reading. We're looking forward to seeing what's on or in the water and then if we can match it, regardless of what it or they may be called. Rhea did point out the fly shop has about a different, but similar, variations on the "blue-winged olive." All are know as BWO's. Then we remembers, on the drive home, something Shakespeare said about a rose, by any other....

Ephemeral Stream


This is the way water 
thinks about the desert.
The way the thought of water 
gives you something 
to stumble on. A ghost river.
A sentence trailing off
toward lower ground.
A finger pointing
at the rest of the show.

I wanted to read it. 
I wanted to write a poem 
and call it “Ephemeral Stream”
because you made of this 
imaginary creek
a hole so deep 
it looked like a green eye 
taking in the storm, 
a poem interrupted 
by forgiveness.

It’s not over yet.
A dream can spend 
all night fighting off 
the morning. Let me
start again. A stream 
may be a branch or a beck, 
a crick or kill or lick,
a syke, a runnel. It pours 
through a corridor. The door 
is open. The keys
are on the dashboard. 


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