Anyone reading this—who actually knows me—will love the excerpt below which I pulled from the introduction of a book I recently read. The book is one in a series of classic garden literature, edited by Michael Pollan.
“For what other pastime has spawned so many fine books? Only fly-fishing comes even close….Which is probably no accident: for gardening, like angling, engages us with the natural world, as actors rather than passive spectators. Both put us smack on the frontier between nature and culture, which is always an interesting place for a writer to stand. And both literary traditions pose practical and philosophical questions about how we might better go about rhyming our desires with nature’s ways, questions that only grow more urgent with time.” -Michael Pollan (Introduction to the Modern Library Gardening Series)
My jaw dropped when I hit this section. Maybe in some strange way I am more like my father than I already thought I was. His life has been dedicated to the dissemination of fishing information, and sometimes, even what might be called literature too. Growing up, I met many famous fly-fishing writers and never thought a thing of it. Even famous folks my father didn’t publish, knew him, and they’ve always appreciated what he has done for the sport over the years.
I always liked the writers a lot, but fishing was not my thing, especially when it came to spinner and/or bait fishing. (Let’s not even go into the bass crowd. They are from a whole different planet.) Instead, for my outdoor fix, I chose hiking and climbing mountains. This worked well for me before the illness kicked in.
Now I am back where I started at age 18. I want to write, am still afraid to do so, and find myself interested in something, no anything, related to the natural world. Originally, I’d wanted to write about the scientific natural world, and now I am narrowing that focus to the natural world around a house, my house. Somehow, in trying to figure out what all of this meant to me, and how I should go about it, I picked up the garden writing series and started reading all of the texts. And what do I find? I found fly-fishing! Life really isn’t a linear progression, but a series of circularity reminding us daily that we will always be lost in our fruitless and relentless search for meaning.