For several years now this magazine has been apt to begin or end, or both, with a piece by Michael Baughman, 43, whose VIEWPOINTS, PERSPECTIVES, REMINISCENCES and the like have dealt with topics ranging in scope from such controversial issues as gun control and aerial spraying to first-person pleasantries about small-creek fishing and cutting grass. These articles have provided us with the insights of a writer whose subject matter has always been of a piece with his life.
Baughman (pronounced boffman) is extremely sensitive to "what can happen to a nice place when there are too many people around." He left Honolulu 15 years ago for college and then the small town of Ashland, Ore., which, he says, "is about as far from a city as you can get in the U.S. I was looking for a place where I could do what I wanted to do in an environment like this."
What Baughman currently does is teach writing and literature classes at Southern Oregon State College and roam the outdoors, hiking and camping with his family in the summer and skiing cross-country when the weather turns cold. Whatever he does and wherever he goes, he is seldom without his split-cane rod, and rare is a Baughman story that doesn't turn out to contain a reference, however brief, to some aspect of fishing.
Baughman's great-grandfather was a direct descendant of Joseph Brant, a chief of the Mohawks, whose tribal territories extended from Canada to western Pennsylvania. Michael was born in Buffalo and as a child spent his summers fishing for trout in a stream that ran through his great-grandfather's Pennsylvania farm. When the family moved to Hawaii in 1948, he turned to the more exotic sport of spearfishing. Now he concentrates on the streams and rivers close to home in the Pacific Northwest, but, a conservationist in the strictest sense, he no longer keeps the fish he catches. "In fact," he says, "this year I didn't even bring home the one Thanksgiving steelhead I used to indulge myself with."
On page 6 of this issue, Baughman gives us an account of his most recent trip to the Oregon coast for some wintry tide-pool fishing, a sport that appeals only to the hardiest angler. Never an athletic slouch, Baughman was an amateur boxer (he took lessons from former welterweight champion Fritzie Zivic), and also played on a national volleyball team in college, won a football scholarship to Boston University and toured Europe as a member of an Army basketball team.
Though Baughman says his competitive days are behind him, he is a runner whose idea of an enjoyable outing involves "anywhere from 10 to 25 miles on old logging roads and backwoods trails near Ashland." Last week he ran in the Honolulu Marathon, finishing in 3:45, and we look forward to his account of the race in weeks to come. Don't be surprised if he depicts it as sort of a jaunt on the way to the ol' fishing hole.