“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” -Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It.
Two rivers actually flow through our little town. The Weiser River and the Little Weiser River join at a place just East of the rocky canyon where the only highway enters town. In the spring when the water is cooler and before they head into the mountains for the summer, colorful rainbow trout can sometimes be caught in these waters. We know because we have seen them. The locals kids also know these waters, along with the Middle Fork of the Weiser and the other smaller creeks that give life to the crops that will grow food which will eventually feed their livestock.
The 9th and 10th grade students at Cambridge High School are currently reading A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean. It’s a beautifully written semi-autobiographical story about the author and his relationship with his brother. The story is set in a small town in Montana in the 1920s probably not much different than our town.
Inspired by the book, the English teacher, Mr. McMichael and with help from the Indian Head Fly-Fishing Club and my brother-in-law Dave, put on a fly casting and fly tying school assembly. The students got some hands-on instruction and watched flies used in the 1920s being handmade by experienced fisherman. So what do high school English and fly-fishing have to do with one another? Well, not much except what a great way to teach those kids that are visual learners. Imagine doing that with every book you read? For example, visit Yukon Territory in Canada while reading White Fang, Alabama while reading To Kill A Mockingbird, or, even better, visit Amsterdam while reading Diary of Anne Frank.
Below are some more of my favorite quotations from the book and photos from the recent school assembly at Cambridge High School.
“Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.”
“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”
“Yet even in the loneliness of the canyon I knew there were others like me who had brothers they did not understand but wanted to help. We are probably those referred to as “our brothers keepers,” possessed of one of the oldest and possible one of the most futile and certainly one of the most haunting instincts. It will not let us go.”
“If our father had had his way, nobody who did not know how to fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching him.”
“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.”
“At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear. It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us. You can love completely without complete understanding.”
“So it is that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don’t know what part to give or maybe we don’t like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed.”
Thank you, fellow fly-fishers for coming to our town and school.