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Reading between the (fishing) lines

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POSTED September 1, 2010 2:27 a.m.
I’ve never shot a caribou, or moose for that matter, though I have had a moose burger with caribou chili in Talkeetna, which is reason enough to head back.

But I got a book, and the author, Rocky, is a guide that takes people who can afford it, on caribou hunts in interior Alaska via six-seat planes that buzz flat-ish areas of land that might work as landing strips.

I try not to fuss too much about the fact that I will never be able to afford one of those four-day kill a bear, caribou and catch fish outfitters as a teacher that supplements his lavish barn-living lifestyle with 700-weekly words describing where my money must go to keep me from worrying too much about paying 600 percent more out of pocket for insurance than my mom does at her school back home.

I guess that’s why I read outdoor essays and subscribe to three outdoor magazines and two fishing ones if you don’t count the hard-bound Cabela’s book I get that highlights my monthly collection of catalogs. I never order from them, but it makes for great reading material on special occasions.

As for the magazines meant for reading and not shopping, I look forward to reading how Nick Jans, Bill Heavey and Mr. Whitekeys articulate the world.

On Sunday mornings after a run, I get a solid hour and a half of fishing shows, my favorite being Napa’s North to Alaska ... of course.

Again, there is no way I am going on some jet boat to the Delta of a river crowded only by monolithic sculptures made by rivers of fleeting ice and where moose loiter and humans are so rare there are no postings telling them to watch out.

I try to stay away from too much television, because before you know it, innocent viewing can end you up ingesting reality shows so vile it should come with penicillin On Demand.

So I mostly read.

I read because my imagination is better than any movie I have seen, and writers should be readers. I do not always read efficiently though, because this imagination takes me to spookily calm waters on Cape Felix, and king salmon, so getting Mr. Whitekey’s sarcasm might take another read. But I’m in no hurry.

If I happen to be taken back to growling black bears on small tidal creeks while flipping flimsy magazine pages, it’s okay.

It’s not that the words aren’t holding my attention, its more my own memories are the alpha male. I eventually reach the last period and, between imagining what they did, and remembering what I did, I can’t help but breathe deeply and be satisfied.

I like the reminder of what is out there, pages of evidence that I may never personally verify, but still accept as proof that leaving the protected bubble of familiarity at least occasionally, is the only way to live.

I am struck by what I read, and sometimes convicted to the point of near ridicule. But I am not a bucket-lister, because ultimately there are things we don’t get to, and if we did, it would either be depressing that there was nothing left, or we would then wonder what to do with the CDs of pictures and pile of receipts. That’s not to say that life should be lived on a leather recliner using wireless internet to spend $5.32 for used books that are meant to replace actually doing something, but you get the point.

So while I read, and plot my next trip to the lower Sacramento, upper Stanislaus or to the Delta to toss synthetics to bass, writers like Rocky and Nick will do the same at locations I will never visit that are nothing more than tiny abrasions on the skin of earth only visible through a microscope.

My own life the entree, words describing theirs, dessert.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail

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