The Mad Fishicist

A fly rodding, sheep stalking, moose calling, guitar trying, bird watching, fly tying, Katie loving stay-at-home-dad.

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Location: Alaska, United States

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Of time and rivers

"The river is the original river. The man, the first man."
Jorge Luis Borges, Manuscript found in a book of Joseph Conrad
translated from the Spanish by Alastair Reid

Do you want to understand eternity? Spend an hour watching a river pass on its route to the ocean. From there it will rise to heaven and return to itself.

Listen to the river. In its voice is the timeless voice of God.

Monday, February 20, 2006


"Look at her. She is your mirror."
-Jorge Luis Borges, The Moon

I'm reminded of a moonlight hike on the southern bank of the Turnagin Arm, Cook Inlet, Gulf of Alaska, Pacific Ocean. It was almost three years ago and I was too nervous to hold her hand. But already in the frozen blue light I could see that her face would become my mirror and so much more.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Losing the Waiting Game

"Green-backed; silver-sided; female; valentine pink in her 'bow. Best part of the whole deal was the revival kneel: half my body and all of hers in the one cold current; her strength returning so soon; my hands so reluctantly opening; the galaxy of silvers/greens/black holes/pink melting so fast back into everything that made them."
-David James Duncan, My Story As Told By Water

Two months until I can catch another fish. Two months is a long time. Until then, I'll just keep reading.

Manzanillo, Costa Rica

"In my heart I know the Man-fisher knows best: river-armed and ocean-handed, He tends his lines with infinite patience, gracious to those who love Him, a mirage to those who don't."
-David James Duncan, The River Why

There are fishermen everywhere there are fish. Somehow, God's grace extends to each without bias. From the Carribbean lobster diver who rides a bike to work, to me in my breathable waders, moments like this are gifts freely given and never ignored.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Candy Hearts

"O ye frogs and fevers, ye coots and constellations, the fisher-girl was the loveliest of lovely sights!"
-David James Duncan, The River Why

Our life is a love song
With all the proper metaphors.
It was probably written in the late seventies,
When love songs sounded more like praise than anything else.
It's mostly about your eyes:
How they look when you first wake up
And the way they look at our daughter and me
And when they're reading
And watching a sad movie.
It even says something about your eyes when you're angry.
I love our song because my life depends on your eyes.
It's a song that I pray generations will sing
And through it they will learn a love like ours.
I'll never forget the words,
Even though the chorus changes every day.
I'll never forget the tune,
But that changes sometimes too.
It's our song to pass on;
It's mostly about your eyes;
A praise to unlimited love
And a new verse every day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Enjoying the Promise (one year later)

My cousin Andy was the perfect human representation of the sacred institution of grace. And forgiveness. And unconditional love. Our imperfections were magnified by his, and none of us would have known true grace or love or forgiveness without his sacrifices.

Now he's the first among us to become perfect.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Two years ago today we said we would. And we did.

If this is what the first two years of forever is like, I don't care if it lasts forever.

Thank you, babe.
I love you.

photo by focusunbound

Sunday, February 05, 2006

"Listen! the mighty Being is awake"

This journal is becoming the chronicle of my life’s perfect moments. Sometimes, several of these moments happen at once:

I'm leaning against a rock in the wind. The sun and the rain clouds are doing that dance they do sometimes when both have lost the will to fight for the position directly above me. The result is a series of rainbows that streak across the sky like the falling stars I watched last night.

I stretch out on a blanket of dark red high tundra, watching four ram sheep gathered to chew and rest for the afternoon. They alert to something far below in the valley between us, and I see a cow moose sprinting across a creek, her calf close behind. Something has made this mother move, and her calf is learning another critical survival lesson.

Farther down the canyon, I can barely see three bull caribou feeding in the muskeg. A Northern Harrier shrieks as he flies below me, and I see his white rump patch even from here. His fly-by upsets a flock of mottled willow ptarmigan; they are starting to turn white already in preparation for the far-too-soon winter.

The size of this valley is unbelievably humbling, and I try to avoid thinking about the long walk I will eventually make to those sheep above the rimrock. As if on cue, a giant woolly caterpillar makes his way up my leg and onto my glove. The caterpillar and I get on well enough, probably because he's the only creature within a day's walk that isn't mortally afraid of me. It's good to wait. The sheep will stay all day on their thrones above this violently red kingdom.

The wind blows a light rain to me; then the sun moves in to dry my clothes. I can hear the whistles of the goldeneyes that are resting from their Southern migration in a high mountain lake nearby. I get up to stretch and to take another handful of blueberries from the bush which the caterpillar seems to like better than my glove.

Right now, life is amazing. I’m experiencing more now than I ever have in school or at work or in a book or at church. I’m alone with God on a sheep hunt, and he’s showing me that everything is fine. Another rainbow streaks across the sky and then disappears. Then the sun again. Then a cloud. The rhythm is impeccable; the music is everywhere.

I have a long walk ahead of me, and everything is fine.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Chulitna River, 2002

"Staring overboard with no other reference point but the river, you can easily persuade yourself that the boat is motionless and the river slipping backward beneath you."
-Ted Leeson, The Habit of Rivers

All I remember is the sound of glacial silt sliding along the bottom of the raft. And an overwhelming love for life.

How bright a soul forgiven gleams

"It's for you my maker that I spend my mortal days
As you pursue to guide me through this haze."
-Hothouse Flowers, The Season's Wheels

A fine man in a fine band. Next time we meet, I'll remember to thank him for the music.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fishing Clergy

"My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things - trout as well as eternal salvation - come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy."
-Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

My dad's first fish and one of my proudest moments ever.