An empty creel; no fish today.
The river shallows and narrows
under the weight of humanity.
We have mastered a destiny
that is no longer ours.
Our magnificent science
conquered them all.
Hunger, disease, immobility;
the inhabitable made habitable.
We are the genus to end all species.
Air, water, and soil wail a cry of death,
while humans whine for their just desserts.
Sacrifice does not compute
inside the algorithms of our desires.
Ignorance and greed depose humility.
Our days numbered; forget infinity.
Carcinogens are our special legacy.
Science did what we asked,
now we plead for forgiveness.
While Nature’s wisdom winks again.
We will pass; the earth will heal.
In every mountain valley there is a spine of life and wisdom. We call them rivers.
Sometimes they rage in a torrent forming rapids. At other times they wane to a trickle. They give life to thousands of plants and animals and, if we pay attention, tell us everything we need to know about life.
I enjoy fly fishing, which is my way of connecting with the river. I have found no better way to learn the lessons of the river. To feel it’s energy and hunt its bounty of trout. I am one of those who has never kept a trout once landed; I prefer to return its life to the river. To take only learnings with me. And there are a multitude of learnings. As I have grown older, I spend as much time observing the river as I do fishing its pools and riffles. There is so much to learn just by being there. Life force. Flow. Equanimity.
As I watch the West dry up and predictions of 125-degree days enter our future, I can’t help but wonder when we will awaken to our fate. Maybe science will save us, but I have given up on our will. We can’t even treat each other with dignity and respect, I doubt we will find any greater sense of duty for our land. It is when we treat people differentially—as better than or less than one another—that the fabric that binds us begins to fray. We are headed for threadbare status; torn to tatters. It is a precursor to societal and, eventually, civilizational collapse.
Mother nature will win; she will cleanse the earth. She has for untold millennia. What we leave behind will fall and be covered by new life. The scars we leave behind will heal. And, the trout will smile a clumsy but knowing grin. The river will be theirs, again.