Monday, August 29, 2011

Wading Through Poetry.

My college roommate (quickly turned best friend) Val, hated poetry. But she felt that she should like it, or at least try to like it. Give it a chance. So every night before bed, she would read a poem. I don't remember what poet she started with, but I do remember that their poems rhymed. She especially hated poetry that didn't rhyme, she said, it doesn't make sense. I think this had a large part to do with us being music students at a conservatory and being indoctrinated with sontata form and rondos and AA - BA - CA - BA, and themes and variations. The leitmotiv always returns.

By the end of sophomore year, Val may not have always liked poetry, but she did appreciate it. She'd taught herself to like at least some of it some of the time, and she was better off for it, she said.

And here now I find myself standing by a roaring stream, thinking about Val -- if she could teach herself to like poetry, I reasoned, I could teach myself this...

Here now for the confession: Wading scares me.  

I didn't start out fishing streams and rivers, I started out in mud flats and lakes. Good grief, my first fish on a fly was a carp. Moving waters make me feel pressured both literally and figuratively. I love being in them, mind you, but they press me to do difficult things, things I'm not completely comfortable with, nor sure of. Everything is moving, the leitmotiv is coming back, and I'm not ready for the progression. My frame feels too light, as if I'm going to be lifted up and flown downstream. I don't have a choice in the matter and it's a one way ticket. 

Thus, when I go fishing alone I tend to avoid moving waters. And this, has been bothering me. It doesn't feel right to avoid hard or difficult things. Or things I don't understand. Like Val and her poetry. So lately, I've purposely headed to creeks alone. I'm reading poetry before bed.

I'm going to keep reading the waters, the tells, the poetry of the eddies. I'm going to keep wading, and wading alone, until I like it. It doesn't even have to rhyme. 

So this morning, stepping slowly and carefully (thinking muleishly surefooted thoughts) into the current, I determinedly moved upstream. I didn't pick every pocket, or drift every run on the far side, but I did some. My confidence grew. And that is really all we can do in the end, reach what we can and move upstream -- falling, bruising, and looking tipsied sober. Can't go back though...can't go back. And so I go wading on -- with a bruised shin-bone and sometimes ego...and will have a few drinks at the end of the day to warrant my stance in the river.

43 comments:

  1. There is that moment of realization when you "can't go back". You might lose a camera or two...but you "can't go back".

    Keeping wading my friend, move forward with the water, keep reading its poetry...

    Cheers!

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  2. whether is it water, a job, a relationship or a new city, pushing one's self to wade into that uncomfortable space exposes otherwise unknown opportunities: fish, promotion, deeper love or a new favorite restaurant (respectively). These opportunities could also be unwanted, but bruises are unavoidable.

    Wading is definitely something worth toasting. In each situation.

    *clink*

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  3. I still can't believe your first fish on a fly was a carp. Isn't that like going to grad school before junior high?

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  4. What thrills me about this confession is the anticipation of what will flow from your pen once you become one with the moving water - once its rhythms become yours - once it tumbles through your soul instead of your fear.

    Eagerly awaiting...

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  5. You'd probably have to search far and wide to find someone who didn't initially fear moving upstream. When you do, It tastes so good, that first sip...and you want more.

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  6. I'm not sure if keeping wading is proper English...but you keep wading and I'll keeping trying to master this language of ours :-)

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  7. I remember the post about learning to read while I was reading this one. Another great post and as usual, fittingly poetic. You'll learn a lot about how to read by reading poetry... If you catch my drift (pun intended).

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  8. Sometimes wading alone can be difficult. I'm a pretty confident wader, but I never pass up the chance to hold hands with my partner (Kelly) in fast current. ;)
    The more you wade the more realize that the water really is in control... some streams or sections are wadable and others aren't. I think part of becoming a competent and confident wader is knowing what you can and can't safely wade.

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  9. Pa - Always.

    Sanders - That "moment" happens all too frequently for me. ;) Thanks, my friend!

    d.nash - "bruises are unavoidable" and mean we're still living, eh? Thanks for the toast! Cheers!

    John - It was! Jay was going to teach me to fly fish, and said I might as well start hard....took me to carp flats. I think he was testing me. ;)

    Mike - Oh, I'm beginning to feel it becoming mine...slowly. As a love, aged. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Cofisher - You are right...and it's horribly addicting. Even the bruises!

    Sanders - I adore that you came back to correct something that neither one of us knows is wrong. ;)

    backcountryfishnerd - Thanks a lot, as always! And yeah...I'm catching your drift. There is a pun-festival in Northern California. I've always secretly wanted to go, but been terrified at the same time.

    Ankur - Many thanks....for still reading minus the GF!

    Jay - Ah, I am much more confident when I can follow behind Jay, and hold his hand when need be. ;) Indeed, I think more than learning the water, I'm learning how far and deep I can go....without being swept away...

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  10. Hi Erin. John Montana suggested your blog to me. The pictures are good, the fishing reports are good too. Your "voice" and your reflections are simply excellent! I am adding your blog to my list.

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  11. Thank you so much, Mr. P.! I'm glad you enjoyed what you read, and will look forward to having you back. I'm following along your blog as well...cheers!

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  12. I find it is better to do something on my own terms rather than force myself to do it, that way i can enjoy it on my own terms.

    I spend most of my time by the waters edge, the only time i will go into the water is when i absolutely have too i.e. to free a snagged fish.

    I will rarely cross a field with cows or horses in either.......... they scare me!

    Top stuff as ever Erin.

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  13. Erin, I think that if you set your heart on it, you could walk on the water. You are a special lady who punches way above her slight form. Keep 'em coming, we all wait with baited breath.

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  14. From what I've seen, those anglers that push themselves to their limits become the most mobile, surefooted waders.

    Those that push themselves beyond their limits end up cold and wet.

    The goal, obviously, is to remain in the first camp, but if you find you've gone in up over the top of your breathables crossing the channel to that inviting run...well...you're already as wet as you're gonna get, you've already paid the price...might as well get a few casts in before you head back to the car for a change of clothes. :)

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  15. Tom - You might be the wiser of us...although I love going into pastures of cows and horses. ;) Thanks much, my friend!

    Dave - Ah, keep punching I will! Thanks for the good words. I'll try not to keep you waiting too long...

    Mark - I've gone beyond a few times. ;) But, ended up the better for it....taught me something. You're spot on though, the rub of it is finding that balance of staying in the first camp! The 'grass is greener' allure often pushes me into the 2nd...

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  16. It's scary until you actually fall in. After that it is just cold, and not nearly as intimidating.

    But seriously? Your first fish on the fly was a poor man's bonefish? Uber-jealous here.

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  17. OneBugIsFake - You're right...after you fall in, everything is so numb it's actually better after that. The initial dip though, like the first time you put your head under water as a kid in swimming lessons. And yeah, seriously, the poor man's bonefish was my first. I had no idea that was rare at the time. Had been fly fishing for trout, but had no luck...how ironic is that?

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  18. I remember when boots with good soles (felt)first came out, and I made the transition from rubber hip waders. What a change! I was an aggressive wader in my youth and middle age, and bounced on my butt through more than one rapids. Now I feel a bit shaky going in much past my knees.
    Next step I suppose is a wading staff.
    Knowing one's limitations, as Dirty Harry said, is a good thing.

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  19. Don't want to rain on the parade, but some water actually can be dangerous, esp. when you're off the beaten path and unlikely to be discovered by passersby. So please do be careful so we can keep reading your prose, which borders on poetry. Don't be embarrassed to use a wading staff which makes sure you always have 2 "feet" on the river bottom and also is useful on the hikes in to and out from those lovely spots you have described.

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  20. Erin, I think that 'grass is greener' mentality is endemic to most fishermen...stream fishermen especially, and stream FLY fishermen even more.

    It's what keeps us exploring...what's up around that next bend? Maybe the best riffle nobody's ever fished? Are there any fish in that little ditch under the interstate? Sure I just lost two flies in two casts to it, but if I can just get one good cast under that branch...

    It's also what keeps the tying creative...incorporating synthetics, demanding new hook styles, special adhesives...

    All that experimenting, innovation, and imagination is surely worth dunking oneself a few times in the drink per year. :)

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  21. Mark, indeed, that unrest and 'angst' and always keeping an eye out, is how beautiful things are discovered and created. And I'll give a big 'cheers' to that. :)

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  22. A ja po prostu przesyłam Ci Erin pozdrowienia z Polski ! Tomek. ;)

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  23. And greetings to you, my translatable friend! Cheers!

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  24. wading brings us back into the essential element, water and home.

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  25. Indeed, Marc...it's what makes us up, eh?

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  26. Interestingly I prefer moving water to waters unmoving. The dynamic nature of the current better holds my attention and tends to relax what can tend to be an overactive mind. But fear is a good thing because it keeps us alive. Taming that fear so that it doesn't own us is, I think, key. Maybe just try filling your pockets with sand to keep you weighted down ;)

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  27. Kirk, I think I need some sand. I've actually gained some weight lately (purposefully),and it definitely helps with the wading!

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  28. I learned to fly fish on rivers. Waders and wading were inherent to the experience. It still scares me, especially at night, alone. Keep at it. Like me, I'm sure you'll reach a detente with it.

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  29. FR - I will, and I think the relationship is quickly improving...although I don't think I'll try that night alone thing anytime soon. I have old man eyesight...my depth perception is horrible. ;) Thanks for stopping by...always a pleasure when you do.

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  30. Erin, your posts are streamside gems. Thank you for taking us wading with you.

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  31. Q...thank you! Thank you so much for wading along. Sometimes it gets murky though....

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  32. Careful-- if you keep reading you might end up liking it or, dare I say, preferring it!

    Confession time: I feel the same about river rafting. And I just bought a raft...

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  33. Brian J. - haha! And I just bought a new pair of wading boots. ;)

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  34. Enjoyed immensely. Weaving Val and poetry,creeks and wading. Adding a gem of fabric,"...in the end it is all we can really do..." pic is precious too.

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  35. Herringbone - I've been accused of rambling, but been complimented that I always end up weaving strange subjects together. ;) Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks...your words always mean a lot to me!

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  36. I don't mind wading as long as I can see. I have, however, fallen, hard, in water that was barely moving. It was just a couple of weeks ago actually and we had only been on the water for about 10 minutes. I was almost fully submerged. I laughed it off but on the inside I was mortified and uncomfortable with being soaking wet (it was a chilly morning).

    Wading in areas where there are large leaps or steps that have to be taken reminds me that I'm only 5'5". I have long legs for my height but they feel short, stumpy and incapable at certain times. It's often why I talk myself out of fishing alone.

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  37. Red - Yeah, it's taken me quite some time to get comfortable wading alone....and still, I'm much more cautious when doing so. I'm a bit over 5'4" and so I hear you on the height thing. When I'm fishing with Jay and following behind him wading, I always have to keep in mind that pools that come up to his thighs will be over my waist.

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  38. There are days when I second think wading if I am alone or out of sight of my husband, or if the water looks a bit difficult. I recall a few years ago a man from Wisconsin drowned on the Big T....that is never far from my thoughts when I am fishing her...I think about him everytime I am on those waters, and a reminder to watch my steps... I like the hand hold partner up method to cross water, and the three points on the bottom rule...

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  39. FisherGirl - Yep, I'm always much more aggressive in my wading when I'm with my fishing partner. And I often hold his hand at crossings too. ;) Things like that man on the Big T are reminders of the power rivers hold...they are beautiful, but deadly. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comment!

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