I said I didn't
know what he was getting at.
fishermen," he said. "What happened?"
"When we had
timber, we had trout. When the timber went, we didn't. What happened to the
I knew what he
meant now, but I wanted to hear the way he would say it. I knew it would be a
way I'd never guess. He stood reposeful between the open door and the car,
still smiled that critical and friendly smile. He said, "It used to be in
November and December, in hunting season, you could go up any of these little
feeder streams and in every pool you'd see two trout, this big." The old
man held the crescent wrench a foot and a half away from the other thick, stiff
"A female and
a male," he said. His smile was friendly now for sure.
That was the
connection. The spawning streams were spoiled.
We said we had to
get our boat. He said he had to get some oil in his transmission, perhaps a way
of poking fun at our idea of necessity.
We float three
miles, noticing that the black-cherry trees are blighted as badly as the elms.
We carry around the last rapids, then paddle seven miles of meandering grassy
channels and a lake to where our home folks have been watching our paddles
glinting, in time, in the low sun for an hour.
semaphoring on the bank. Wife swinging her pailful of hair and cocking a
camera. That blocky orange thing on the hillside which reveals itself to be a
dump truck. The suggestion that we take a shower in the campground facility
while a picnic is prepared. After four days on the flowing changing river all
of it seems like indentured servitude. The boat is upside down on top of a
Saab. We realize we have been hauled off to a museum.