SOCIAL DISTANCING

I’m a loner. Always have been. I’ve never been a joiner. As a kid, I suffered through Little League, plagued by anxiety over what my teammates might think if I struck out (which I did routinely) or dropped the ball (which I did more often than not.) As an adult, I spent an evening at a meeting of a well-known national association never to return. I pay dues to my local chapter of Trout Unlimited, but must admit I rarely attend meetings.

I suppose that is why I write, for writing demands time alone.

That also may be why fishing with flies came so naturally to me. It is an endeavor I can engage in with only red squirrels, chipmunks, and the occasional kingfisher or blue heron as onlooker.

I’m at ease with both activities.

While in college, I naturally gravitated toward Thoreau and good old, Billy Blake, the godfather of the British Romantic movement, Good old, Bobby Blake. Like most students of American literature, I came to admire Hemingway and Fitzgerald. But between McGuane and Harrison, Kerouac and Ginsberg, I read the stories of Judge John Voelker aka Robert Traver, and soon discovered his: Testament to a Fisherman. Although every line is a treasure, one stood out to me:

“Because, in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion.”

In 1990, a line from an essay in Gary Snyder’s book, The Practice of the Wild, also struck meThe world-renown poet and naturalist wrote:

“The wild requires that we learn the terrain, nod to all the plants and animals and birds, ford the streams and cross the ridges, and tell a good story when we get back home.”

For most of my life, I’ve tried to nod to the plants, animals, birds, and fish, mostly brook trout, perhaps because brook trout prefer those streams the farthest from town and city.

I was able to find a wife, who shares my propensity to spend time away from others. Although Trish does not share my piscatorial passion, she often accompanies me into the forest. While her husband wades upstream and down, she collects bones, skulls, and other detritus found along the shoreline or woodland floor.

Many of my non-angling friends have never experienced the quietude found along a forest path, the anticipation upon hearing the sound of a mountain brook’s current at the end of the trail, or the smell of balsam drifting from the shoreline as early-morning fog rolls across its surface.

All this brings me to Social Distancing, a technique the world is using to reduce the effects of the Coronavirus. While others complain about the disruption that this is causing to their day-to-day lives, Trish and I are simply going about our usual routine—packing a lunch, herding our dogs into the back of the truck and heading for Bonnie Brook.

14 Responses to “SOCIAL DISTANCING”

  1. Jeff Hines Says:

    Excellent, as always, Sir!!
    When I decided to learn the names of all the trees, I likened it to walking into a living room full of party guests, where one would proceed to introduce oneself to everyone else and find out each person’s name. The forest is a most comfortable and appealing living room, and I imagine the trees are happy I troubled myself to learn each one’s name and characteristics. Same with the birds and their calls. Though the taxonomy of every insect, weed, and vine are presently beyond my interest level, I still feel welcome when I set my boots down the trail and arrive at my “living room” to fish. They all know my name by now.

  2. Rich Staneski Says:

    A great post, Bob. With many sentiments that I share. Social distancing will not be difficult for me, nor has retirement been. I enjoy my own company and that of MY Trish (Tricia really). And this renders fishing a wonderful avocation.

    It was nice to see you in Lancaster and I will be scouting Devils Hole for a possible outing with you.

    Thanks for another pleasant read!

  3. Paul Downing Says:

    We must be related, at least in spirit.

  4. Paul Downing Says:

    Sorry, I entered the wrong URL in my previous signup. Please change. Thanks, Paul

  5. Mike McAfee Says:

    Very well said, Bob ! As a semi-loner I am happiest when surrounded by trees rather than
    people, I share love of the outdoors, whether fishing or sitting by a Maine lake in the early morning listening to the music of the loons. Mountains and deserts are also on the list.
    You might want to add Edward Abbey and Scott Tillman to your reading list.

  6. Jerry Kustich Says:

    Love it Bob…we’ve are well prepared for social distancing.

    • forgottentrout Says:

      Hope you and yours are okay, Jerry. I’m awfully lucky to have twelve acres to putter with this and that and a little trout stream a few minutes down the road. Be well. Stay safe and sane.

  7. DIANA LOHSE Says:

    Dancing

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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