This is a lesson that Henry Beston set down more than sixty years ago in a book called The Outermost House. “For the animals shall not be measured by man,” he wrote. “They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”
To embrace this knowledge in one’s inmost heart is to depart from the Redneck Way and to know, as Dick Blalock says, that “fishing is not about food.” It is a way of interrupting the invisibility of these shining creatures and existing for a moment with them in their wildness and transience, their indifference to our approval and their dependence on our restraint if they are to add another hour to their ten thousandth year.
Howell Raines, Fly Fishing through the Midlife Crisis
Though it has been two weeks, my heart still goes back to Beavers Bend, Oklahoma. It was two weeks ago that I finally “solved” the trout problem that had plagued me for over ten years’ worth of visits to that beautiful place. I just could not catch trout of any significance. I have been a passionate fly fisherman for over ten years, and have known the thrill of raising trout in Colorado, Arkansas and even in Texas winters, but never in Oklahoma. Finally, two weeks ago, I managed to catch four beautiful rainbows.
The setting that I have worked on in this watercolor is the exact spot where I connected with the trout. When I finished and left the stream, I took out my camera and managed several photographs of other fly fisherman that had moved into the vicinity. They were welcome company because they were quiet, serene, and respectful of the rules in that restricted zone. It is a barbless hook zone, though unfortunately not enforced. If one fishes below the spillway, s/he could be checked three or four times daily by game wardens, as I have. But never here in the restricted areas where it should matter most. There was a sour moment when several Philistines moved into these waters with their treble hooks, live bait, beer and obnoxious noise and splashing about. They had no luck, and fortunately for all of us, moved on, and quiet once more descended on this lovely evening sanctuary. I released all my trout, as did the fly fishermen around me, and when I left, I left satisfied and fulfilled.
This painting of course will never do justice to the lovely setting that was mine for a day, but at least the memories will continue to wash over me as I look upon it. I still have some decisions to make about the water surface dynamics, and some of the tree areas are still not to my satisfaction. High school and university exacted a heavy toll from me today. I didn’t finish my necessary prep work till 11:30 tonight, so alas, I have nothing left in me to paint. Maybe, hopefully, I can return to this tomorrow, and perhaps finish it. And then I’ll find a new subject to paint.
Thanks for reading.
I paint in order to remember.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.