Since I’m not buying gear and fuel requires money, my adventurous nature led me eight steps out the backdoor, armed with a book.
If it makes me a geek, fine.
I used up Saturday afternoon from a beach chair reading “A River Runs Through It.” I’ve seen the movie, and I know what’s going to happen, but I didn’t really know what was to come, that is, where my mind would decide to go fish.
That’s why it took me so long to finish. The author of the memoir, Norman Maclean, had me pensively recalling moments on my home river, which is nothing like his, but that’s not the point.
While my eyes scanned left to right, my mind looked through the pages at Nagoosh, the best silver hole on the Klawock River. I didn’t see the chipped cement beneath my sun-bleached chair or weeds photosynthesizing their way over the few dirt patches remaining in the yard.
I saw my buddy Jered wading up to his hips, and E.B. standing on the log, letting the entire river know that Jered was scaring the fish, then threatening in only the way a crusty Alaskan high school fisherman can.
As I flipped the page, I saw E.B. cast out his line, let it sink, then jerk it out of the water and into Jered’s side. Lars and I had stopped fishing, and were laughing as the bullying continued until Jered finally retreated.
Once that memory faded, I had to reread the previous three pages, as I had been completely distracted by my daydream.
After a few sentences, I could picture Norman and Paul as the book intended, displacing the flow of the Big Blackfoot with their legs, elegantly tossing intricate flies at rainbow trout in Montana.
The words were computer code on a screen, chains of gibberish that I could see in vivid, living color.
The images surely inaccurate, but if I wanted to be told what I should picture, I’d watch the movie, drowning my imagination.
Within a paragraph the ambiguous Big Blackfoot was once again the dramatic Klawock. Wyatt and I sloshed through the narrow, but sloppy trail, dinner dangling from our hands. Before I could say “red Blue Fox No. 5,” I was on the ground, lure pulling at my elbow.
The barb tore through my favorite jacket and was embedded a fraction of an inch from some artery an EMT would later say was important. The barb worked as it is intended, and pulling and twisting only increased blood flow.
The stiffened salmon, coagulated blood occasionally running down its cold, silver body, spoke from the great salmon beyond, “Try getting one of those in the mouth then having some kid yank you into a log.”
Wyatt cut the 12-pound test, and we rode our bikes home, fishing poles across the handlebars, 8-pound silvers swinging from one grip, spinner still set, dangling from my elbow.
My brother cut the fish into neat slabs while the EMT mutilated my favorite jacket, and reduced my favorite lure to a black arch that disappeared into my skin.
At the clinic, the doctor of the month (there is no permanent doctor on the island) numbed the snagged section and I watched as he pushed the barb through, creating another hole, clipped it off, and fed it back through the initial puncture wound.
Memory concluded, I returned to Manteca.
I heard and saw birds, then flipped back eight pages to re-read Norman talking about his last fishing trip with his brother.
Great book, maybe I’ll “read” it again this weekend.
To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org