November on the Klamath

Night’s silent choir,

Patiently gathered around the roots of trees,

Inside the river’s long bend,

And in the shadows of boulders,

Passing time under morning’s great bridge.

.

Across:

The orange of maples.

Ahead:

Paws of a lone bear.

Behind:

Tracks of a fisherman’s boots

Through the damp, grey sand.

.

These might be cobblestone dreams

On a lazy afternoon,

But that was October’s rhythm:

Summer’s back porch, shaded

In creaky planks

And sliced tomato gluttons.

.

Now, the soft arc of light,

Chilled in air gone stiff and still,

Begging for hunched voices,

That dare not stir old winds,

From behind sedge and willow.

.

A conversation,

The groans and gripes of water on rocks,

Goodbyes of frogs and leaves and liquored blackberry sunsets,

The gratitudes of full moon clouds,

A gift of rain.

.

Hurry,

The long gaze of night

Will soon turn us to pebble and stone,

Smooth and round, barely colored,

In the fading light.

Maybe this time

Maybe this time

You might stand a bit taller

Framed

In October’s teasing words,

Where summer wanes

In its wandering light,

Barely holding on

While the romanciers take flight.

.

There was the time we fell asleep

Playing along the tracks,

In between a train,

On the day,

come and go:

our rhythm,

Calling clouds,

Whistled story

Of great valleys

And toys

Still scattered

On the dirt bank.

.

Before we hid under the bridge

On a dare we answered,

Rolling in our slumberous child ideas:

Notions of far off places, tall buildings maybe,

Or wild woods,

We would soar.

.

While this air is changing,

I wonder if you look back,

To the dawn of memory,

And find in this day,

The stillness of space,

That open quiet

Calling once again.

.

I sometimes stop and wonder,

if the air we breathe today

Was our gasp at the trains

Passing overhead

Back then.

patience in a rainless world

Where is this hard line?

Through forest, over hill,

And across water I’m told

By the old men, gathered along

The river bar, waiting years for a fish

To be caught so they might move on

To the open fields to spend their days

Released from those toils.

.

That thin, frail string stretched

Through dark woods, and

Mirroring the sky,

Where the hard line of a storm

Challenges a stale afternoon.

.

The jagged line of rocks against water,

And the silent boils, softening a long seam

Where currents meet, reunited:

Partnering again in their purpose

As they explore a single winding path

To the place where land ends

And the great depth of the sea begins.

October 19th from the eyes of a 19-year old.

This is what I wanted to say

Before I fell muttering over sour coffee:

.

On october 19, at sunset,

A bright glow traces the place where summer ends

And the promise of winter begins.

.

Never quite seen then.

Sure, we’ll get the hope, But

Only see how summer has gone woefully stale,

Even wrong.

.

After a few more years,

The rhythm plays loud,

Then, the time will come,

And catch us muttering,

As we look far across the field,

Into the bright October sky.

.

The Way Summer Turns to Fall

It carries on the last bit of her laughter,

That last breath hanging in the air,

Just for a moment.

When every piece of her

Comes forth in smile and laugh,

Like some restrained ecstasy

Seeming ready to burst.

Then floating off,

Then, stillness.

She moves with purpose now,

But with a strange habit of

Great drifting circles and musings,

Like a big river, meandering, eddying, floating,

And, in time, maybe, finding itself again

Where the wandering currents combine,

And move onward to far off places.

She tells the story ever so carefully,

A story told again and again,

A story of places, a story of movement

All the while,

Her arms carry it along,

Her hands bring life to those places,

Her voice fills me.

Then, the long pause in her eyes.

Long after the last piece of laughter

Had vanished into a long wait

A fear comes over me,

If only I could sit still then, instead I’m frozen

Again.

This is my one chance, before I miss it all.

Again.

You see,

Hers is a story of the way things are right now.

Not what will be, as I want to think.

Nor just the way I remember it.

In that kind of way that memories can become.

Maybe,

Someday, I say, I will get the joy,

The essence, see that moment

when her laugh never stops.

Enter her stillness where we trace those circles,

Recounting the stories again, all full of life

And look out from her eyes

Onto the way things really are.

Time again…

 

Darkness sets in on arguably some of the best steelhead fly fishing on the planet this time of year ... all whipped to a frustrating froth by a wind that refused to ease up at sunset.

Right on schedule … mark calendars … Fall has begun and now is the time to convene at the river…

All the willow trees, blackberry bushes and dried grasses are almost the same as last summer. Except the blackberry crop this year is late, owing to the late rain and cool summer. This probably also explains the lack of algae along the rocks in the faster sections of river; the streamflows were likely high and fast enough into the summer to preclude the development of slippery substrates through much of the faster moving water. In places, the river bed is stunningly clear. Water quality is correspondingly improved as well (except for temperatures which are their usual late summer stressful levels). The relatively stable footing on the clean riverbed is an entirely new sensation for these parts at this time.

Right on time, as in years past, a weak front moved through yesterday moderating water temperatures and raising hopes of a windless afternoon. No such luck. The winds were strong and unabating into the evening making Slate Creek a “wind whipped hellhole” as I was prone to calling it long after the sun had sunk below the ridge. Despite this, the fish did come on the bite as darkness started creeping in. All half-pounders, with a back-to-back hookup at one point. Maybe four fish to hand and a few more LDR’d on a floating line. Very difficult conditions in the wind to control line, swing and patience. Regardless the fish are here. Did a quick pass through house-sized and sea-monster early with nothing. No fish showing on top at Slate Creek until near darkness, but difficult to see and hear in the wind-stirred froth. Now, from here on out, it’s all a matter of watching water temperatures, prospecting windless afternoons and reminding the boss that I will be scarce until at least November. All social and domestic obligations will be thrown aside. The time has come to convene at the river…

Still Fall Day

Soft afternoon sneaks under morning’s hold

Faint breeze hoisting tiny bits of almost forgotten summer

Save for a little dry stick along the path

Snapping under foot, cracking into the damp green new grass

And carried along on the breeze.

Gentle, slumbering afternoon for remembering a thousand other places

Just like now.

When this breeze might ruffle the curtain of summer’s open window

Or spoil the warmth of spring’s first day

Or maybe whisper “Here I come” on the edge of winter.

And this afternoon falls into the long hold of night

Long after the breeze passes to those other times

Where the morning, the night, the day

All hang in one long breath