Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 22 - The Written Word

It is dangerous for a man with a weak heart to go trout-fishing, for he is liable to get a case of shell-shock at any time. You are going down a nice, quiet stream and you see a dark corner over there where a tree hangs out, over a pool which is as smooth as oil and black as ink. You know what is going to happen. You know you're going to be scared. You feel that you shall either jump into the creek or run for home when it does happen at all - and yet that terrifying thing does happen. There comes the tremendous unheralded flash into the air of a crimson and white and orange creature, a terrifying phantasm, a moment seen, then gone forever. Did you see it? Why, yes; but you forgot all about your rod and it certainly must have spit out the fly which it took as it went down half an hour ago. You stand and tremble, and look in apprehension at the spot where the little wrinkles still are spreading out on the oily ink. He might do that again. It takes a brave man to go after trout.
The above quote was taken from Holden's book "The Idyl of the Split-Bamboo" from a section entitled "The Joys of Angling". To me it perfectly catches the rush of emotion of having a trout take your fly. I don't think I would ever have called it being scared, but when I reflect upon the above text, I have to say that Emerson Hough (whose actual comments these are) was correct.

In my own words, I've called that feeling a lightning bolt that starts at the fly, travels through line and rod, enters your hand, creeps up your arm and explodes into your soul. Put in simpler terms, unbridled joy. If it were any more intense, it would cause tears in your eyes.

In case you haven't picked up on the fact, I tend to read quite a bit. I love the written word, and enjoy the feeling that I get when I read a nice well crafted story. Thoreau, Maclean, Holden, Walton, and Hemingway grace my shelves. New(er) authors like Gierach and Prosek provide me glimpses into today's angling lifestyle. I read their experiences and I'm transported to another place and another time. It allows me to go fishing, when the demands, constraints, and responsibilities of my own life prohibit me from actually going.

Personally, I secretly desire to be among this cadre. I hope to see my thoughts and insights written down and preserved for posterity. Something that will provide a voice for my soul, that will shout to the world, "I am here, and I exist! Do not forget me!" Maybe there's a desire in each one of us to be not forgotten.

So I read books on fly fishing. I relate to the characters and authors of these stories. And as my eyes flow along the serif print on the page, it is as I am honoring them in some manner. It is as if I'm saying, "You still exist. Your words move me. Thank you."

Consequently, I'd like to honor another person, the (very) late Provost of Eton College, Sir Henry Wooten. Izaak Walton brings his words back to life and Holden quotes Walton, quoting Wooten (and now I'm quoting Holden, quoting Walton, quoting Wooten). Each of us feeling the emotions that call us to angling that Wooten has so eloquent expressed. Each of us honoring and remembering a fellow angler.
'T was an imployment for his idle time, which was not idly spent;' for Angling was after tedious sudy, ' A rest to his mind, a cheerer of his spirtis, a diverter of sadness, a clamer of unquiet thoughts, a Moderator of passions, a procurer of contentedness, and that it begat habits of peace and patience in those that profest and practic'd it.

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