Saturday, August 28, 2010


Sharing last light in Oak Creek Canyon with my father.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


There's a line in Norman Maclean's "A River Runs Through It" that I enjoyed thinking about last week. It comes at the end of the scene where Norman bails his brother Paul, and Paul's girlfriend, out of jail. On their way out the desk sergeant says, "Maybe you should all go fishing."

Neither my brother nor I had to bail the other out of jail last week but there was still plenty of metaphoric resonance in that line. Like everyone, we've had our share of trials and tribulations. We've done our best to help each other through them -- with the inevitable mixed results. Which reminds me of another line from Maclean's book that stayed with me. He quoted his brother as saying, "maybe what he likes is somebody trying to help him."

Last week, Trent drove up from the valley heat and joined me on my writing retreat at the family cabin. He helped me trouble-shoot Lonely Dell, the new screenplay I'm working on. Then we ate a couple of burgers in Flagstaff and fished the evening rise on Oak Creek. Trent caught the only fish of the day on his trusty mosquito pattern.

Being the older brother, I tend to think of myself as the one who takes the other fishing. While watching Trent fish, though, I realized the dynamic changed somewhere along our lives' timelines. Now that Trent's pushing forty, and I've pushed past fifty, it's hard to tell who is taking whom fishing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


My plan was to drive down Oak Creek Canyon and see if I could connect with a wild brown trout.

I'm in Flagstaff again this summer to recharge my creative well --- to paraphrase Hemingway. It is suffering from an overdraft. Hanging out in and around the family cabin, and fly fishing Oak Creek, are some of the ways I recharge that well.

As is so often the case when I'm here, first light woke me. Actually, it was the morning air that got my attention and lured me out of a deep sleep. I climbed down the ladder from the loft and put the percolator on the propane burner.

We keep ground coffee in a silver can labeled "tea." I had loaded the can with Late for the Train's North Rim blend. Beyond French Roast, they describe it as Volcanic, like Flagstaff's geology.

While I waited for the water to boil and the coffee to perc, I picked up a copy of a new book I brought along to read on this trip, Shedding Skins. It is an anthology of four contemporary Sioux poets.

The morning passed as I read poems and drank coffee on the porch. The sun rose and warmed the meadow. The aspen and ponderosa pine and bunch grass transpired and the air became pleasantly humid.

When I read a line by Steve Pacheco, the first line of his poem, "The Lower Sioux Rez: Three Scenes," a trickle of creative water started to refill the well.

"I feel I owe something to the blue jays for their loyalty."

Sunday, August 1, 2010


(Photo: Kennedy Tanaka)

I finally renewed my lapsed Trout Unlimited membership; put the check in the mail. But that doesn't mean I wasn't doing my part until then. Money is just one way of helping out. Another way to help preserve our streams and rivers is to take a kid fishing. Educate the next generation.

This way of helping is my personal favorite. Especially when those kids are my niece and nephew. And it's not just because they like to eat french fries and hot wings, or that we work the morning paper's crossword puzzle during the drive. They are genuinely fascinated with the whole of nature. Watching and listening to them make connections in their minds about the connectedness of ecosystems thrills me.

Actually, fishing with these kids doesn't qualify as volunteering my time at all. I'll send my membership renewal check to TU on time next year.