Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Most times, I come back from fishing with stories. Carrying them -- instead of fish -- in a creel. I'm always looking for stories; like a birder, looking into a tangle of tree limbs for a flash of color, or movement. On this past weekend's adventure, Jay's sister Eve came with us too, and at a few points stated that we'd "better not write" about a certain thing or two. And, I won't. I won't look there for a story. No Erin, that was not a bird on that limb.

It's a dangerous thing, keeping company with two writers.

Most times, I walk back down the mountain with a mindful. It's like my eyes have overeaten, and they throw everything back up into words. And usually, like a little boy, I stutter excitedly about trout -- tongue tripping over what to say next while simultaneously trying to take mental note of flies for the next trip -- crane flies, I need to tie crane flies.
Opening the cabin door, first thing, the computer gets plugged in -- ready to crop photos and write and work until midnight (well almost midnight, but that is entirely number-of-hard-ciders dependent). Jay and I look at each other, why don't we just get Netflix like normal people? And that night, the computer just stared back. Watching a movie would have been more productive. I had nothing to say. I turned it off. Going to bed early.
Taking a break midday, we had eaten Swiss Cheese and sugar snap peas, as Jay told stories he remembered from David Hackworth books -- about the Korean War and mountain passes and unexpected survival. Rallying. We need to rally, he said. Perched, we strategized. We'd work clockwise, back around the other side of the lake -- first Banjo and I, then Eve, then Jay. We worked hard. But those cutts, they didn't want to think about food. Their biological clocks ticked and tocked and our timing was off. We had nothing that could feed their hunger.

All day we cast to cutthroats tucked in underneath a sheet of snow. It probably wouldn't all melt before the next season's layer arrives -- just like my own bed in the canyon which never gets down to what I remember as being the 'summer sheets' of my youth. This is flannel country, year round up here. There is always a chill, and there is always a quilt. Or two.

As the sun sank below the pass, rusting out the eastern valley's light, crane flies began to tease the water. I need to tie crane flies. And as the last rod tip was sleeved, there was a rise. Of course, there would be a rise now. We picked up our packs and didn't look back at the lake. Shoulders slumping, we trailed down.We were all quiet.

Jay led. Thinking. I could tell...

"I'm not used to walking for hours to have trout ignore me."

"Yeah...yeah...maybe, we should try a river next week..."

"Hell no! I'm coming back." He kept on walking. Focused. Straight ahead. "'s all about persistence."

Even, when it doesn't pay off. 


  1. Damn fine writing. Damn fine. (Oh! FIRST!)

  2. Thanks, DoM...(and congrats!)

  3. Sometimes these stories of failure are the most inspiring. Particularly when they are so vividly painted.

  4. Hart, the hardest times make the best stories, eh?

  5. Szkoda właśnie, że tak właśnie jest jak pisze Erin. Dziś taki piękny dzień a taki straszny. Jest mi dziś bardzo smutno. Pozdrawiam.

  6. I hope you are feeling better soon, Tomek...persist! :)

  7. "...but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." Rom 5:3-4

  8. Persistance always ends up paying off..I'm with Jay , I'd be back up at that lake for another go round! Wonderfully written as always and I must say I feel priveleged to be among the first 10 commenters!! You're getting to be quite popular it seems and it's all well deserved....Jeff

  9. Jeff, oh I agree...I'll be up there again too...I like a good challenge. And yes, I'm not so sure where this 'popularity' is all coming from...I'm a hermit at heart!

  10. Great post, if you didn't have any of those days you'd definitely be writing fiction.

  11. Persistence and stubbornness often walk hand in hand. I tend to side with Jay on a day when the fish decide not to cooperate. Although, I do like to think I'm persistent, rather than stubborn :-)

    As you know, it doesn't take a fish to tell a story...well done. Especially in flannel country.

  12. Kev - Very true! And I can't write bring on these days...

    Sanders - I've been told I'm "hard-headed." Intended not as a compliment. However, at times it is useful. If my head were soft, I probably wouldn't hike up there again. ;) Thanks so much, for your thoughts!

  13. Entertaining and inspiring - as usual Erin - now go tie those crane flies.

  14. I'd risen early that morning. I'd slipped away and left them to their slumbers.
    That family holiday, when I was a boy, had brought us to a sleepy hamlet.
    The dawn mist still swathed the land and the grass soaked my feet as I crossed the meadow to the stream.
    My green glass fibre fly rod was my constant comrade during trout fishing adventures.
    I stand by the stream.
    My 'daddy-long-legs' imitation (crane fly) soon swished on it's short flight before it landed with a plop just aside a rock. My heart thumped as my fly tumbled downstream. A sudden swirl and my rod bent and soon the most gorgeous baby brown trout was at my feet. A gorgeous and pristine gold with every colour splashed in vivid dots across it's tiny body.
    Though I slipped that beautiful fish back into the stream, I didn't know then how long that fish would stay with me.
    Again your beautiful writing has brought that memory back to life. Thank you.

  15. Dave - 'tis on the to-do list for this evening!

    Alan - What a beautiful memory. I'm honored to have brought that fish back, out of the water today...thank you for telling of it.

  16. Persistence, like hard work, always-always-always pays off.

    I can't wait for Part 2.

    I'll put the coffee on......

  17. How many times I have walked that trail trying to figure why I bothered...but I always go back.

  18. Good blog, i will follow it.
    Greetings from Spain!

  19. With only a pallet of Alphabet soup you create a banquet that feeds the soul. Few individuals could make such a great story from a day of not catching fish.

  20. Herringbone - Thanks. :)

    Doug - Headed back to another lake tomorrow...hopefully for fish! And, I'm sipping some coffee right now....cheers, my friend!

    Cofisher - We like punishing ourselves, I suppose?

    Carlos Del Rey - Many thanks! And I will be following along with you as well!

    Kevin - Thank you, so much, for that encouragement. Alphabet soup....I like that picture. :)

  21. Nice post, young lady. I just got back from a small, unnamed creek south of the Bob Marshall, lots of downed trees, it was rare to see 20 feet of free water, but lots of fish. Cutts, from 12 to 18 inches. You would have done better than me, 'cause it required lots of scrambling.
    Your post reminds me of the quote about 'perspiration vs. inspiration'. I'm sure you know it.

  22. Great piece! I love that you can put into words the stories you come back with. I fill my head while out, and even make notes in a journal while out and about, but once it comes time for creating --- "ummm..." seems to come out more times than not. At least there are writer's like you out there!

  23. Mike - Small unnamed creek...sounds like heaven. I do know of the quote...Thomas Edison, I believe.

    Casey - My 'ummms' usually stay awhile too. Pesky things to chase away. Thanks for stopping by!