Archive for the ‘fly fishing’ Category

Finding my Way Back

March 26, 2020
Quality Moments for Reading, Recording and Painting

There is Spiritual Power in our speech. The First Worker blew His breath into the first human. He created and made him breathe and so there is Spiritual Power in our speech. Be careful in how you speak.

Baaannile (Direction of the Path of the People), White Owl

White Owl, delivering his wisdom to the Crow tribes, has struck a deep chord within me this morning. In the midst of this Stay At Home directive that has confined me to the hearth, I have tried largely to avoid the reckless waste of words tossed over the air by alleged leaders of this country–people who were appointed to their positions because of the trust that they were mature and wise. Some sound decisions are being made, I believe, but much of the rhetoric, political posturing and showmanship I can do without. Words are precious and pack much power, but diminish exponentially when used for carnival barking.

My former student, Eric Tiner, lives among the Apsáalooke (Crow) in southern Montana where he has found a rich life and work. He has graciously sent me this book handed down by White Owl, and in recent days, my soul has been replenished by words from this sage’s reservoir along with words from N. Scott Momaday and the Kiowa traditions. Not only have these wise men granted me new visions for subject matter in painting–they have also filled my journals with fresh vistas of thought.

Working on a Pair of Watercolors

Most of Wednesday was spent in my makeshift studio, working on a pair of watercolors (one of a Kiowa subject, the other a Crow). As I worked, I listened on YouTube to a pair of engaging documentaries of the life and work of our famous American illustrator N. C. Wyeth, father of Andrew Wyeth. N. C. has arrested my attention over this past year as I have learned that he was a lover of books and ideas and these were the motive power behind his magnificent paintings. As I have previously written, I have deeply appreciated the rich writings of painters including Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newmann and Mark Rothko, but I find very little in common with their Abstract Expressionist syles of painting. Now I seem to have landed in the embrace of a kindred spirit who loved books and representational painting as I do. Those who know me personally are aware that I have a deep-seated attachment to Andrew Wyeth’s art. However, I deeply resent a public remark he made in an interview that he believed his father wasted too much time reading Thoreau and Emerson. And so, though I am more attached to Andrew’s techniques and subject matter, I am much more attached to N. C.’s written words that express rich profoundness of thought.

As I have felt my strength returning to me in the past few days, I have appreciated the stamina of my eyes and mind to read, think and write once again. And now, it feels good to get out and walk in the open air (where there are not other people nearby) and feel strength returning to my body. Before this virus scare, I always felt compelled to travel and network for the purpose of increasing the visibility of my art. But frankly, I prefer the more sedentary life, and always had this inborn fear that I was being “lazy” when devoting large blocks of time to my studies and my art. This beginning of 2020 has been most unusual, as it has marked the first time in over thirty years that I have no teaching contract of any kind, and now the Stay at Home directive essentially tells me to stay in. I have read the remarks of many who are frustrated that they cannot get out and find a social life or enjoy shopping, but frankly, I have appreciated very much this respite. The life of the mind is rich enough for me, and I relish this gift.

Last evening I felt good enough to get out and walk, and decided to pack a folding chair, fly rod and good book as I made my way to the nearby park where a large playa has spawned a population of catfish and carp. I eschewed the classical manner of fly fishing, choosing instead to tie on to my leader a small strike indicator bubble and a size 18 treble hook dangling 12″ further. Three pieces of whole kernel corn were spiked onto the treble and I slung the bait out into the center of a finger of the playa, laid the rod at my feet and let the evening winds carry the line along, coming to rest about a foot from the bank. Nothing happened, as expected, but the evening winds whispered among the leaves of the shade tree overhead, and I felt very much alive and thanful. Opening N. Scott Momaday’s The Man Made of Words, I turned to my bookmarked spot, near the finish of this magnificent book. Reading and glancing up at the bubble every few minutes, I found myself soon immersed in Momaday’s world, and was surprised at one point to look up and see the bobber dancing all about. The carp was heavy for my light-weight fly rod, and bringing him in took awhile, as I didn’t want him to break off the fragile leader. His gold and green glistened in the sunset and I took a moment to admire and photograph him before returning him to his home. He sure was a stout fellow, and disappeared in a flash when I let him go.

A sturdy carp taken on a flyrod

This Thursday morning is bright and sunny in west Texas. I am choosing again to stay inside for the day. There is plenty to keep my imagination occupied, and I’m glad to start the day by sending these words and pictures to you.

Thanks for reading and please check out my website at www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Seclusion

March 16, 2020
Outdoor Fireplace at the Cabin

But the next day you know it’s no use; you know that if you went home there would be nothing there, just the empty land and a lot of old people, going no-place and dying off. And you’ve got to forget about that too.

N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn

As I was finishing House Made of Dawn, I recorded the above statement in my journal because of the way it arrested my thinking. Home. Since retirement in 2017, I have mostly lived the life of a drifter, frequently choosing not to remain in my house where I live alone. The travel, the friends, the adventures and the new stories have all combined to fuel my imagination and my art. And I would not have traded those experiences for anything. I have been fortunate in living the dream.

Currently we all live in a world that has completely morphed beyond recognition. I was not at home when the virus scare finally captured the national attention. And it happened that three of the people among whom I love most had included me in their plans to get away for a few days, renting a cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. So, here we are, away from the cities and neighborhoods, with no appointments or sense of clock time, enjoying a large fire we’ve built in an outdoor fireplace, and sharing meals, stories and all-around good moments.

Relaxing Dinner with Friends

I packed my art supplies for plein air work while away at this cabin, but the weather is cold and very wet, with rains filling up most of the days and nights. Outdoors it is comparatively dark, so I laid aside the art supplies and balanced my quality time between books and fly fishing.

Evening Hole at Beaver’s Bend State Park, Broken Bow, Oklahoma
Nice Rainbow taken with a Dry Fly

The weather is windy, cold, wet and frigid for fishing, but that tends to keep the crowds down. My favorite spot (Evening Hole) is a pretty good trek upstream from where I am able to park, but the area was thinly enough populated that I found plenty of room (more than thirty feet of distance from other fly fisherman) for open waters. After landing one pretty rainbow, I was bone-chilled and ready to leave the frigid stream for the cabin, friends and fireplace. I will say though that few things (to me) are more delightful to witness than a nice rainbow rising to snatch your dry fly from the surface of a moving stream. That image is what has remained with me during this stay.

Thanks for reading, and thank you Sandi, Ron and Dian for another lovely memorable time together, away from the city life.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

The Velvet Silence of the Night

March 5, 2020

Disclaimer: Monday I posted a blog covering several days of meaningful events, and a few hours later deleted it accidentally while trying to correct a typo using my phone. Several days later now, going back through my journal and archive of photos, I have reached a decision to take this string of sausages and try to reconstruct the pig as best I can:

My Favorite Retreat for Solitude

When I cross the porch of this old, refurbished store, I bring my whole life with me. The anxious world appears to pause in this quiet space every time I pull back the screen door and enter the dim interior to put down roots for a day or two. The philosopher Martin Heidegger retreated to his cabin in the Black Forest to do his best thinking and writing, away from the city and university. And so I find myself content in the midst of these east Texas woodlands to find peace and quiet and pursue my best work. Henry David Thoreau had his Walden, Heidegger had his Todtnauberg, and so I have my Davy Crockett National Forest and wonderful friends who have made it possible. A spirit of well-being envelops me as the night now advances. I find this a perfect setting for reading and scribbling out pages of thoughts in my journal.

Arriving late last night, I was exhausted, but still managed to relax awhile for reading, writing and reflection. Later I turned out the light and slept a deep sleep till dawn. At first light, I rose refreshed and immediately sought out my favorite rocker on the porch. The morning was chilly and windy, but that seemed to make the coffee taste better.

The Thoughtful Cup

I frequently laugh with friends over a line from the Saul Bellow novel Herzog. The aging professor Moses Herzog was described once as lingering over a “thoughtful cup of coffee.” While ruminating over my own cup, my mind gratefully returned to last night as I was closing The Gallery at Redlands. A lady, after looking through my collection in the gallery and then the restaurant, retrieved her husband, and when it was all said and done, they purchased a pair of my paintings of Sacred Heart Church that stands across the street from the hotel. I’m pleased the paintings found a home and realize it is time now to create some new works of this majestic structure.

Faith Glowing in the Storm
Sacred Heart in the Morning

Once breakfast was finished, I began rearranging furniture to turn this bedroom into a studio, taking advantage of the natural light flowing in through the French doors. For a couple of days, I have been working on a small watercolor of a Missouri mine. My friend from school days, Wayne White, sent me a number of photos that he has taken of these subjects.

Indoor Studio

After a few hours of tinkering with the painting, I decided to seek out a restaurant recommended by a new friend I met last night in the hotel after closing the gallery.

Larry Bruce Gardens

Larry Bruce Gardens is located in the middle of nowhere: 3198 County Road 4600, Kennard, Texas, but wow, was it worth the drive! I don’t recall how long it’s been since I encountered a Sunday lunch buffet as fresh and exotic as this one. Live bluegrass music played throughout mealtime and the atmosphere was just as savory as the food.

Luxurious Buffet

Returning to the store after lunch, I felt the need to walk off the meal. Rigging up my flyrod, I hiked down the hill across the road to a large body of water on the property of the store owners. It must have been a long winter, because the bass were hungry and eager. I landed 27 fish, mostly largemouth and a small assortment of panfish. The winds were up, making it difficult to work the fly line, but the fish were nevertheless more than enthusiastic to meet me halfway.

First Fish of 2020
27th Fish of 2020

The evening was spent in sweet solitude as I read a great deal from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and Carlos Baker’s Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. Sitting on the porch rocker, I felt intoxicated by the sounds of the steady winds whispering through the leafy trees and the constant chirping of the bird choruses. As the light dimmed, deer emerged from the surrounding forests and moved noiselessly across the fields and the yard surrounding the store. It was a perfect world.

Second Morning

Retiring to bed for an exhausted, heavy sleep, I awoke surprisingly at 5 a.m. and could not shut down the thoughts surging through my mind. I thought of Carlo Marx in Kerouac’s On the Road shouting in the darkness: “You can’t shut down the machine!” So I rose from my bed, and after a “thoughtful cup of coffee” on the porch, moved my studio outdoors and returned to work on the abandoned Missouri mine, eventually finishing and framing it.

Studio Moved Outdoors
Finished the Missouri Mine

Meantime he was working harder than he had ever worked in his life, often until three or four in the morning, Then he would fall asleep, his head feeling like a frozen cabbage, only to jump awake again a few hours later, with the words already stringing themselves into sentences, clamoring to be set down.

Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story

The past couple of days have been heavenly as I have moved back and forth between painting and reading/thinking/writing. From the drafting stool to the rocking chair, from the plein air easel to the writing desk. Back and forth. Painting, reading. Drawing, writing. Drafting, thinking. The rhythm I find very satisfying.

Hemingway searched for his one true sentence.

John Nash searched for his governing dynamic.

Thoreau searched for the hard bottom of reality.

And I continually search for an aesthetic, a style, an identity to my own creations.

Hemingway once wrote that “a writer is an outlier like a Gypsy.” I suppose all of us who strive to create question ourselves: are we outliers? Solitary, yes. Unconventional perhaps. As for myself, I can honestly say that during these years of retirement I have enjoyed a life on the road, a perpetual journey, an odyssey. While traveling, I have enjoyed changing perspectives that have prevented me from rutting, from becoming mired in sediment. Life has remained multi-faceted like a rare gem. And in that I have found perpetual delight.

Thank you for reading and please check out my website www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Mind Drifting Back . . .

August 14, 2019

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings . . . but must learn to ply her craft by judgment studied.

William Wordsworth, “Lyrical Ballads”

I arrived at Dave’s Diner about thirty minutes before Dad and I agreed to break our fast here. The Missouri morning is beautiful beyond literary description–amber sunlight standing strong against the cold shadows, and our 75-degree day is not expected to climb above 88. I read this morning that my Texas home will reach 102 today. I’m fortunate to be here.

Opening my reading of Paul Tillich’s The Courage to Be, I meditated over several pages of his discussion of Existentialist thought, finding his words very personal and enlightening. This book has been my vacation companion for nearly two weeks now, and I hope to be blogging about its message in subsequent posts.

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Waiting for Dad at Dave’s Diner, High Ridge, Missouri

But as I read and recorded notes in the journal, my mind kept drifting back to Monday and what I experienced while fishing all day with my friend. I never thought a Missouri river could equal the beauty of a Colorado mountain stream, but I say in all earnestness that Big River on that day rose to the competition.

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Sorry Wayne! I’m not 1/10 the Photographer that You Are!

I attempted several photos with my smart phone but naturally could not approach the quality of Wayne White, my fishing friend who is also a photographer of professional standards. I tried to capture a panorama of what I saw that morning as he crossed the stream to meet up with me.

Currently, I am sitting in a Fenton, Missouri coin laundry, grateful for the technology we enjoy these days–Wi-fii, smart phone, laptop–and I feel moved to record some more of what I knew on Monday. It proved to be one of those rare days when, as a fly fisherman, it seemed I could do no wrong. I still feel that cool, breezy morning wind caressing my face as I gazed downstream at the river’s bend, admiring the golden sunlight sending shafts through the branches of the trees overhead. The whirring of the locusts provided a more suitable white noise than what I know in city life. I spent the day staring at a light green fly line that continually cut the surface of the gliding waters in front of me. Looking down at my wading boots, three feet under water, I could see them as clearly as though gazing into an aquarium. Three or four perch were surrounding me, darting between my feet, perhaps looking for edibles set adrift by the gravel I stirred. The pebbly basement beneath the gliding, reflecting surface of the waters managed to hold fast my imagination to the point that I now puzzle over how to capture that dynamic play of colors and tones in watercolor. Maybe later . . .

As the morning passed and the sun rose higher, I took delight in watching the shadowy forms of largemouth bass prowling the depths of the channels I worked.  Studying the water’s flow and watching the minnows flash in the sunlight as they surged upstream, I searched through my fly box for something to match what I observed. My joy was complete when I managed to fool five of the largemouths with my Clouser minnow fly pattern. But some of the bass were in the 18″ range, and Wayne and I have now decided to return to this location tomorrow at first light to see if we can coax some of those lunkers to take our offerings.

Today is given largely to running necessary errands as I prepare for my imminent return to Texas. Hopefully this afternoon I can take out my watercolors again on Mom and Dad’s carport and continue working on the Sedona series I began weeks ago. I have fifteen plein air watercolors that I began on location, and now am puzzzling over how to complete and sign them. I am intrigued by Wordsworth’s theory of spontaneity followed by judgment, and hope I can make that work in my watercolor as he did in his poetry.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I  journal when feeling alone.

I blog to remind myself I am  not alone.

 

River Serenity with a Friend

August 13, 2019

wayne2

Wayne White Fishing Big River

The Child is father of the Man;

And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.

William Wordsworth, “My Heart Leaps Up”

College classes begin for me next week, and as summer winds down, I exalt in the wonders of this year’s experiences. Memories are still awash with the wonders of the Grand Canyon and the Red Rocks of Sedona. “Standin’ on the Corner of Winslow, Arizona” was also a fun moment as were the trips down memory lane, compliments of historic Route 66 across Arizona and New Mexico.

I am currently taking the opportunity of visiting my parents and siblings in the St. Louis vicinity, and spending some quality fishing time with my friend since second grade, Wayne White. Rising early, we met yesterday before daylight in Desloge, Missouri and drove to Bootleg Access in Washington County. Wayne has been an enthusiast of fishing and kayaking Missouri’s Big River, and his experience over the years has really paid off when we’ve fished together. This time would be no different.

Big River was low and the water was clear as crystal. Looking over the easy flowing stream, I was reminded of my youth spent fishing Indian Creek in southeast Missouri long, long ago. As a fly fisherman, I love working gravel-bottomed streams. Not one time throughout the day was I required to clean weeds or algae off my fly as I fished. By the time we worked Big River at Bootleg and Leadwood accesses, followed by the lake at Bonne Terre city park, we had landed nearly sixty fish. The day couldn’t have been more pleasurable.

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Sunfish Caught on Woolly Bugger

My childhood memories were revived by the sight of many sunfish landed. I don’t see this species in the Texas waters I fish. I’ll never cease to be stunned at the brilliance of these colors. Several other varieties of bluegill, perch and warmouth were landed as well. My usual practice is to use nearly every fly pattern in my box, but I only used two throughout this entire day. A green sparkling woolly bugger landed all the perch, bluegill, warmouth and sunfish, as well as a pair of smallmouth bass.

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Smallmouth Bass Caught on Woolly Bugger

Bootleg Access featured shallow waters for easy wading, and the panfish varieties were abundant in the swift current shallows. Moving on to Leadwood Access, we found deeper holes, longer channels and a different sort of excitement. I stalked a pair of smallmouth bass as I worked one of the channels and watched with delight as I cast my woolly bugger a few feet in front and watched each fish dart up and take it. The five-weight fly rod strained under the strength that these feisty fish exerted as they streaked downstream, forcing me to pull them in against the current.

wayne1

Largemouth Bass Caught on Clouser Minnow

The real fun began when I found a long swift shallow run with an undercut bank on one side and fallen trees on the other. The water was sparkling with the flash of the silver sides of hundreds of minnows pointed upstream. I cut off my woolly bugger and tied on a clouser minnow colored like a bass fingerling. Tossing it downstream, I stripped the line, jerking the minnow in quick spirts against the current. The water exploded continually as five largemouth bass inhaled the minnow. The fifth bass taken came by surprise–I had to stoop under an overarching tree as I waded downstream, and chose to drift the minnow in the water beside me as I walked rather than reel it in. When I cleared the stream and lifted the rod to pull up my line, bass #5 was on!

We wrapped up our day with a visit to the city park in Bonne Terre. It was late afternoon and the heat was blazing. Finding a bench beneath a large shade tree, we sat there with rod & reels in hand, laughing at ourselves–a pair of old, tired, crotchety men fishing with live bait. And the fish continued to rise. We bagged an additional ten-to-twenty as we sat enjoying the shade.

We have decided to try our luck a second time, later in the week. Already I am anticipating with gladness this precious time with a friend who loves to fish, loves the writings of Emerson and Thoreau, loves to blog, and loves to laugh. I thoroughly enjoy our conversations when we are out exploring the beauty of our natural world. The river calls out to us, and we must answer.

Thanks for reading.

Texas Musings

January 28, 2019

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. . . a man who was talking couldn’t listen to the country, and might miss hearing something that would make the crucial difference.

Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

I finished reading Lonesome Dove at 1:03 this morning. I could not put the book down and go to bed till the task was complete. It took less than a week to journey through the 843 pages. The tears could not be stopped as I neared the end of the story. Rising early this morning, I decided I wanted to listen to the country as Captain W. F. Call was fond of doing. So I loaded the Jeep and journeyed a couple of hours west to see if I could land some rainbow trout out of the Brazos River, one of my favorite winter spots for fly fishing.

possum kingdom

Brazos River, Below the Highway 16 Bridge

As it turned out, it was not a favorable day for this. The icy winds tore through the Brazos basin, and the river was high and swift. I tried my luck for a couple of hours, but neither I or the half dozen other fishermen I met up and down the stream had any luck at all. But the scenery was nevertheless a delight to behold, and it was quiet out there. I didn’t judge the adventure a failure; it was soothing, retreating to the Brazos and enjoying a couple of hours of quiet. After all, the fly fishing wasn’t the main reason I got out this morning . . .

On my return trip, I stopped by the City Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, to look for the burial site of Oliver Loving, the real person behind “Gus” of Lonesome Dove.  I knew, once I finished the book, that I wanted to stand at the site and pay my respects.

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Grave Site of Lonesome Dove Hero

I was emotionally moved at the sight of the red bandana tied to the rail in front of the grave. Though the wind was freezing, I stood here awhile and reflected on this cattleman’s legacy.

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Each time we read for enjoyment, the empathy awakened within us creates entire landscapes in our mind’s eye.

Madisyn Taylor (DailyOM)

I love reading the meditations of Madisyn Taylor, having subscribed to the DailyOM. Her recent post reminded me that reading is a creative act, as the reader creates worlds stimulated by the literature read. For the past week, I carried Lonesome Dove everywhere with me, including this relic of a church I love to visit in downtown Fort Worth.

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Remains of the Fourth Street Church, downtown Fort Worth

Every time I pause in the relic of this 1874 structure, I think of William Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798”–

And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things.

And so I attempt to record the sweetness of this lovely day, impelled by the reading of Larry McMurtry, a real gift to humankind.

Thanks for reading.

Retreat

November 8, 2018

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Deep sigh . . . I have arrived.

I am not complaining about the level of industry I’ve sustained over the past months–truly, I love what I do, and am glad to be semi-retired so I have time to do it. But I have only so much physical energy, and know what it means to need a rest. And I need a rest. The Darrs, whom I love deeply, included me in their plans for this escape months ago, and the timing could not be better. I drove three-and-a-half hours today to get to this location, and it has been four years since my last stay here, but I believe it will be more than worth the wait.

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Four Years Ago

Tomorrow, I’ll find out if the fishing is still as good as it was then.  In that day, my fly rod got a workout as I fished a beautiful stretch of trout waters beneath a towering bluff. And today, while making the journey here,  I was ecstatic to see the fall colors peaking in this territory. In fact, I was so excited at the fall foliage that I dialed up Hobby Lobby on GPS and discovered there was one three miles ahead, just off the Interstate. I dashed in and scored a couple of full sheets of watercolor paper and a handful of stretchers. So I’m all set for plein air.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Coffee Before the Escape

November 8, 2018

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Preparing more Collage Materials

. . . the might-have-been is but boggy ground to build on.

Herman Melville, Billy Budd

“The things we could have done together.”

Steve Jobs speaking to John Sculley near the close of the film Steve Jobs

Days have rolled by since my last post. I just finished a whirlwind of activity between my college classes, art gallery and art festivals. In addition, there was plenty of travel for business purposes. And I have had some meaningful visits and conversations with friends. The fall season is always busy for art. And, I experienced a profound loss as well during this space in time. Hence, the quotes above.

At the time of this writing, I am preparing to meet my last college class of the week, and then will leave for the wilderness for awhile. The vacation was planned long ago, and it includes my closest and steadiest friends over the past thirty years. In fact, they were the ones that made the cabin arrangements and invited me to join. I am glad the day has finally arrived. I need the rest. This could prove to be the fullness of time.

evening hole

My Favorite Trout Stream within Driving Distance

Years ago, on a chilly November morning, I pulled four 20-inch rainbow trout out of this stream. It was the best fishing I had known in years, and I haven’t returned, until today. I hope the re-visit will fill me with the same calm that I knew back then. Few things stir me more deeply than the sounds of a flowing trout stream beneath towering bluffs. Times like this call to memory a text I read long ago:

Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. 

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

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My Attempt to Paint that Scene

I have packed my supplies for watercolor as the fall colors are peaking at this location (hopefully I can do some plein air painting, though forecasts call for temperatures to dip into the thirties). I also have a number of collage ideas surging in my head, mostly of Jack Kerouac themes. Happily, I sold my recent Kerouac collage to genuine friends I have happily known for a number of years. And of course, a stack of books have been packed along as well, mostly Kerouac, Thoreau, Annie Dillard, and a few others. I intend to devote days to meaningful conversations with my close friends, reading, writing, painting, journaling and thinking. I don’t yet know if I will have Wi-fii access where I am. So, if I go quiet a few days, the readers will know I am off the grid, which is also good.

At this time, I also wish to offer my sincere “Congratulations” to the Historic Redlands Hotel for being awarded Best Renovation/Rehab/Restoration by the Texas Downtown Association! I still cannot believe I have been offered the most beautiful gallery space in this special building!  And now, I have been joined by the best roommates I could ever imagine: Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. I miss the “boys” already. “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” from 7-10:00 provides great company for me at my desk every weekday morning.

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 Redlands Hotel, Palestine, Texas

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Joined by the “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” Personalities

So, until next time . . . thanks for reading.

I make art, hoping to discover.

I journal, being mostly alone.

I blog to remind myself sometimes I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

Morning River Mystique

July 26, 2018

 

When the early morning light quietly grows above the mountains . . . We are too late for the gods and too early for Being. Being’s poem, just begun, is man.

To think is to confine yourself to a single thought that one day stands still like a star in the world’s sky.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

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View from Brookie Cabin

July 26, 2018

The fifty-two degree Colorado morning was a chilly one with all the cabin windows open and the mountain breezes coming through. I rose at 6:56, showered, made French press coffee (pinon blend tastes so delicious in the mountain air), and prepared a three-egg omelet with asparagus, red pepper, onion, bacon jerky and shredded mozzarella. At 7:56, with breakfast over, I stepped out onto the cabin deck to view the meadows separating my cabin from the stream. My eye was filled with delight, seeing that the grasses were artistically woven with contrasting strips of amber sunlight and teal green shadows.  Beyond them, the stream laughed gently. I pulled on waders, boots, gravel guards and belt, then joined together my four-piece fly rod, attached the reel, and threaded my line through the guides.

rigging up

Tying on a Parachute Adams dry fly and attaching 18” of tippet with a Micro Mayfly nymph, I picked up my net and shoulder bag and hiked my way to the stream below.

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I felt the serenity I know all-too-well from reading Ernest Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River, Part II.” I could just as well have been Nick, happily hiking along the stream, surveying the flow and listening to the birds that filled the trees and bushes along the trail. Carefully stepping among the slick rocks in the stream bed, I slowly made my way out to where the water was flowing along a narrow channel between boulders and a fallen tree. Stripping the line from my reel, I flicked the dry fly and trailing nymph out into the current and watched it glide by as I mended my line and took out the slack. There seems to be a calming Zen rhythm to fly casting, and it didn’t take long for me to feel that I had meshed with the flow of the stream.

After a dozen casts, the dry fly suddenly disappeared beneath the surface and I hauled back sharply on the rod. The heavy throb at the end of the line indicated that a trout was on. He fled to the tree, and I managed to pull him away. Next he darted downstream, and I turned him back. As he rocketed out of the water, the sun reflected off the golden sides of a 12” brown trout, a nice sturdy one. Several somersaults later, he finally drew close enough for me to slip the net under him. I wet my hands, removed the barbless hook from his jaw, photographed him lying next to my flyrod, then gently placed him back into the water and watched him dart into the depths and disappear.

trout 2

The story would repeat about fifteen more times, with some of the trout escaping after a brief flourish, and one heavy one breaking my line as I tried unsuccessfully to keep him out of the fallen tree that was damming up the stream. Unfortunately, I never got to see him, as he stayed deep and pulled violently on my line. No matter. All of today’s trout were released and I took only memories from the stream.

trout

Three hours later, I decided the morning was spent. Selecting a large boulder, I sat down and drew out of my small shoulder bag a slim volume of Pre-Socratic fragments that I love translating from their original language. Selecting perhaps the oldest fragment of Western thinking, I translated a line from Anaximander, a sixth-century BCE thinker from the island of Samos:

From where things have their origin, they must also pass away, according to necessity. for they pay penalty for their injustices, according to the ordinance of time.

There will be plenty to unpack from this ancient oracle, but this morning, one particular idea stood out—the necessity that whatever comes into being will pass into oblivion. At age sixty-four, I think of this much more now than I did twenty years ago. I am grateful that I have been given the gift of appearing on the world’s stage to do my performance and then exit, hoping that what I leave behind will be more good than bad.

Every time I am given this precious gift of standing in a mountain stream on a chilly, sun-splashed morning at an altitude surpassing 8,000 feet, my mind returns to the reading of A River Runs Through It. One of my favorite passages involves the Reverend Maclean seated in the woods after fly fishing, and translating from his Greek New Testament the Prologue to the Gospel of John. I did this last week while seated in a lovely library at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.  For anyone not familiar with the New Testament text, I encourage you to meditate on it, particularly the first five verses. In A River Runs Through It, Reverend Maclean discusses with his elder son Norman the significance of the passage and how it can be related to the flowing mountain river and the eternal rocks beneath the surface. Every time I pause beside a mountain stream to read, or wade the channels in search of trout, I am struck by this thought of rocks from the basement of time lying quietly beneath the flowing, restless waters of the stream.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. 

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

Thanks for reading. My time in Colorado surpasses words to describe.

boulder

Drawing the Next Circle

July 24, 2017

redlands

In the Gallery at Redlands, Palestine, Texas

Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn, that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

Awakened at 5:30 this morning by a heavy rainstorm (love the sound of rain on a tin roof!), I rose refreshed, and by the time I finished showering, making breakfast and loading the Jeep for the 50-minute drive to the gallery, I was surprised to be at the desk by 8:00. My pump is primed, and I am ready to begin the next painting.

Emerson’s meditation on “Circles” has possessed me since 1992 when I was first introduced to it while at Oregon State University. The words resonate with me, because I seldom feel that I’ve been mired in a rut; there is always a new adventure to pursue, a new experience to savor.  When Jack Kerouac wrote that beyond the hills in the distance something wonderful is going to happen, I believe it was Ken Kesey who retorted, “It turns out there are just more hills.” I have met many with Kesey’s sentiment, but I am not one of them. In a short time I’ll be departing for my next road trip, and I’m excited beyond measure. Meanwhile, I have a commission to complete, so I’m getting down to the business of it. It’s a beautiful morning in Palestine, Texas for working on a painting.

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Last evening, between soggy rainstorms, I did manage to get in a little fly fishing in a private pond near the store where I reside in the country. I managed to land two largemouth bass and a pair of fat panfish. I returned them all, just enjoying the sport of fishing. I couldn’t imagine a better way to finish an evening. Last week in Louisiana, some of my best evenings were capped by fishing area lakes, and I’m still thinking fondly of those experiences.

Time to get to work . . . thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when feeling alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.