Sunday, January 15, 2012

Haunted by Water

I recently re-read "A River Runs Through It" by Norman Maclean. This is a wonderful story of two brother growing up and flyfishing in Montana during the early 1900's with their Presbyterian minister father. It is also a deep and tragic telling of the loss of a loved one and the helplessness the author felt when he could not save his brother.
Maclean paints a picture in words of the waters and trout of the Montana of his youth. I could easily fill an entire entry with the lofty prose he treats the reader to.
I think the one thing that attracts me to this story is the deep understanding that Maclean had with his surroundings and how the great Montana trout rivers spoke to him in the timeless manner. I can only try to relate to my own angling life.
Maclean does not rely on a bunch flowery adjectives to tell his story like so many erstwhile writers do today. He puts into words the very sadness he never got over at the loss of someone that he could not help.
Don't we all have someone in our lives like Norman Maclean's brother Paul. Someone so gifted yet so fatally flawed that you know that your precarious grip on them and your love for them is not enough. Paul Maclean was a shooting star that shone bright but so quickly and prematurely extinguished.
Maclean wrote " All good things come by grace and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy" So I would ask simply what does that say to you? I know that Maclean was writing about the art of casting a fly but I think it says least to me it does.
To me it says simply that the things we work hard for are things we cannot take for granted once we get them. We strive to make the best casts or tie the most perfect fly but how about the journey?
Is fly fishing a means to an end? I suppose it is for me because it is only through the simple but beautiful "four count movement" That perfect peace in an angling life can be achieved or at least striven for.
I had a friend who wanted to proudly display a picture of a steelhead he had recently caught. He acted like I would be angry that he got a fish and I had not ? I was happy for him! I was happy for him in a way that can only come through the satisfaction of knowing I need not compete anymore.

1 comment:

  1. Wow I agree I recently re-read this also after my Dad died and I think you are right the book. Although at times it seems to be talking of things that are simply described I think it runs much deeper. I also am glad that I don't have to compete any longer and that the joy of being on the river and the beauty of the surroundings and the fish if they do rise and they will is enough.