Thursday, July 17, 2014

How Not to Feel Guilty about What You Don't Know

Confirmation of my recall of a line from Keats lay only a couple finger taps away. But I did the better thing: I went to the book and looked it up.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A "tedious brief" Essay


                    How Anglers Got Their Literature
                         In the beginning was the Word
    And then, you and I came along to generate the Word, make it flesh, objectify it, give it body. And the Word continued to increase, each one of us imagining it over and over until its story gets told.

    For us anglers it had to start somewhere. Perhaps it began those eons ago with that little female hominid of whom I dream (shall we call her a “woman”?), who in her sluggish consciousness and those busy new thumb-like things, saw a fish hanging close-in to the bank of an equally sluggish African stream.   

   Something happened… something to do with her lying down, with those strange “thumb-parts” of her hand, deep in the water, going under that fish’s belly, and suddenly her lifting, tossing, throwing-- and the fish flies up out of the water onto the bank.

    She and her young ate it and it was good.

   I want to think that at that instant, the meager consciousness of her small brain conceived. She had thrown that fish not only onto the bank, but also into her brain where it lodged as an IDEA. There, like that original Word, it could reenact itself again tomorrow, and produce a new, another fish.

    With this, the little Mother of us all became the First Fisher. With her, angling and its literature were born.

   Should I go on Boulder creek tomorrow, I would, need to, put into practice, materialize, what she taught me of her primal IDEA, from that first literature, when that original fish entered our consciousness. She haunts me.

   But now, that I can no longer cope with the rigors of Boulder Creek, I am comfortably content with that Idea of Angling-- which serves to remind me of everything else under the sun, and keeps me and my Mac trying to write it all down-- before it’s too late.

Monday, June 2, 2014



Upon the death of a Friend

Golden lads and girls all must.
As chimney-sweepers come to dust.
Cymbeline, act iv

    Donald Grant Ralston left these Colorado mountains from his recent retirement in Texas on May 31, 2014. He was 87.
   Don came down to Boulder from Jim Town in 1939 with his father and mother, Lassus and Eunice Ralston to enter Northside Junior High School. Lassus had for sometime had been prospecting for gold around Jim Town and opened a producing tungsten mine in Boulder Canyon, just above Boulder Falls.
   With Don’s passing we have lost one of the last of the genuine hard-rock gold miners—all that his father had taught him of that great calling. Together they were the ideal of what it is to be an Old Timer.
   Don grew up in Boulder and was educated at the university. He prepared to teach English and taught briefly in Wyoming before his long and distinguished career in California-- with his big, liberal, skeptical mind.
   He married his Boulder sweetheart Donna Tomlin, who lived in the Whittier neighborhood of east Pine Street, the neighborhood that was to have such a profound effect on seven of its kids who ganged up there to hunt and fish, smoke their pipes, try to decide which was the greater music, the Wabash Canon Ball or the Overture to Tannhäuser, and to take their lives in earnest as they prepared to go to war when they graduated from Boulder High in 1944.
    They belonged to each other then and always.

    Let me call the roll:

 Ralph Metcalf, their head man (killed on Luzon, age 18)
Don Ralston
Frank Brady
Wes Jones
Alan Olson
Bill Rickard
Gordon Wickstrom

   I, Gordon Wickstrom, make this statement about our dear friend on behalf of myself and William H. Rickard, we two from east Pine, who remain of those golden lads of Boulder that the seven of us once were.
   We shall never again know that special heart’s grandeur of the old naval gunners mate Don Ralston—down in the mines, in those classrooms, on fishing trips to North Park. Nor shall we ever again rally to hear him inveigh against our national passion for wars and the injustices at home that support them.
    But we had him for a lifetime.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Discipline of the Cup Revisited

   There may be among you fair readers, one or two who will recall a confessional essay in that first book of mine, Notes from an Old Fly Book in which I write about our being up on the ridge of the range, in the second month of our marriage, now sixty-six years ago, fishing with two of my good angling friends.  When, around our small campfire, I began to behave quite badly. Betty would have none of it and, picking up a heavy iron cup, whanged me on the side of the head, leaving me to struggle for consciousness.
   My behavior was modified on the instant, and I, at once, became the model husband that I have remained ever since.
   Now, so many years later, I occasionally find myself stopped in the street by this or that lady of a certain age who has heard my story and wonders if whacking her husband a good one, as Betty had done, would aid in her marriage problems.
   I almost always recommend against it, explaining that the “discipline of the cup” must be administered no later than in the third month of a new marriage-- if any good is to come of it.
   I try to explain that deeper into a marriage, whanging does little if any good and is not worth the effort. I advise the ladies to bear up and try to be content with us old husbands who are, generally speaking, a pretty sorry lot—and there not being much anyone can do about it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Winston Rods, Hung-Over Anglers, and Henry's Lake: a Scouting

   A sort of big story among all the little stories that move us anglers has been the changing fortunes of the R.L. Winston fly rod company that began in San Francisco in 1929 and has recently had such a turbulent time of it--ending up in Montana, and I decline to mention elsewhere.
   Well before the dreary excesses of glass, carbon, and boron, the craftsmen in San Francisco developed a way of hollowing out the lower reaches of a bamboo fly rod, leaving a rather stunning, fluted-hollow interior, preserving all the near miraculous dynamics of the bamboo while reducing the over-all weight of the already fabulous rod.
   And on such a hollow-built Winston fly rod hangs my tale.

Friday, April 25, 2014


 I’ve suspected and now know first hand that bloggers must feed themselves on pretty heavy diets of ego, the better to keep on invading the privacies of their unwary readers.
  In the present instance, I forgive myself this note on the grounds of “efficiency of communication”. I write to tell all you good friends that on next Wednesday, I begin chemical treatment for this galloping lymphoma from which I have every reason to expect excellent results over the next four months.
   The oncologists urge haste because, and this surprised us,
I could otherwise expect but one or two months.
   Tomorrow I am 88 and well-prepared for most anything.
   I cannot tell you how touching have been your messages of encouragement. Thanks over and over.
    Think tenderly of yourselves,
                                           the bouldercreek angler

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

To: The Whole and Ancient Company of Anglers


Dear, my readers,

In the last weeks, my health has crashed. I'm beset with greatly enlarged adrenal glands, shot through with B cell Lymphoma. The prognosis is not yet complete. In general I feel lousy but am beautifully cared for.
 It will have to do for reason to celebrate my 88th. birthday this Easter-tide.
  I am gratefully yours,