Look. Scan the list of dead rivers and streams across the Pacific Northwest. It’s not a single page, it’s a long scroll. The salmon are gone, not because people wished for their demise, but because they were not protected. The salmon are gone because one resource was traded for another. Repeatedly. Will we learn from these mistakes? Will we add to the scroll? This is a watershed moment.
From the inland ridges tributaries flow
To rivers and ocean waiting down below
Swollen with promise, the lifeblood of the Earth
There are no dollar signs denoting their worth
This is a watershed moment, hear the planet’s call
There is no atonement if we let it fall
Filthy water cannot cleanse
We reap what we sow my friends
This is a watershed moment
This is our watershed moment
I found a bottle on the ocean, I thought it held a note
But the bottle held the ocean and the ocean, it spoke
It said: You come to me for answers, they are hidden in your heart
I’m just an emerald mirror with no wisdom to impart
You stroll my many beaches seeking peace along my shore
Let my hush enfold you and still that inner roar
Hear the rhythm of my waves and the cadence of my tides
In Nature’s rippling pulse a salty symphony resides
Tho this bottle held no human note on its buoyant ride
It was the inkwell of the ocean with a sea of words inside
We view time as a constant.
The tide pulls with such strength it actually slows Earth’s revolution;
It steals time from the firmament, lengthening our days.
The moon, which beckons the sea, is repelled by its tide.
Love unrequited, it observes from a distance, knowing more than we’ll ever fathom
How nature is fickle and time may be as fluid as the ocean.
The storm curls up the Inlet in a sneer,
An untamable cur that bites at my face and snaps at my clothes.
But behind the snarl, there is beauty.
It’s a tough love.
Isn’t it always?
In navigational terms, they say your outstretched fist is equivalent to approximately 10 degrees. I wonder how many fists it will take to change the course of this season.
We fight the Inlet tide, using cutlines so we don’t have to pick up at slack water. We hope the upcoming flood rewards us.
We fight the storms, launching our skiffs through angry breakers, seeking a harvest amongst the peaks and troughs. We hope the winds reward us.
We fight ourselves, ignoring bumps and bruises, sore muscles and smashed fingers. We hope our stubbornness will be rewarded.
We fight for our existence. The highly polar and politicized fish wars endanger us as many call for our demise. We hope our long history in the face of sustained runs will be rewarded.
I’m often asked why I keep fishing. Why fight each season? I’m not sure how to answer someone who doesn’t already understand. It’s like describing something using the wrong half of a foreign language dictionary. All I know is how adrift I would feel without fishing.
They say your heart is approximately the size of your fist. That seems fitting, for it is with your heart you battle your way in this world.
And so I continue to chart my course. Tide after tide. Season after season. Fist after fist. Hoping my heart stops before the fishing does.