These days, it’s easy to make a list of negative things in the world (hard to resist starting with our new president’s list of candidates to fill his cabinet) but as attractive as that exercise is, I’m not going there today. Instead, on the eve of this holiday, I offer a list of gratitude:
To Skyla and Weston, who fill my days with light, and still want to fish with their Old Man; To my mom, dad, brother and extended family near and far; Old friends–from Bainbridge, Seattle, and Olympia to Rockaway Beach, Corvallis, Terrace, Ventura, the Rockies, the Outer Banks and beyond–who I love so much I can hardly believe we aren’t related by blood. To new friends and adventures ahead. To heroic First Nations fighting to protect fish and water at Lelu Island, the Skeena, and Standing Rock. To a yellow lab named Halo who reminds us to find happiness every minute of every day. To cold, clean water and big, wild, chrome fish fresh from the sea.
I am thankful for health, happiness and good luck, for opportunities to work for the good of our planet, for the words of Jim Harrison, Tom McGuane and Brian Doyle, for the taste of spring Chinook and wild ducks, elk, deer, for time on the water and in the woods making memories with family and friends… It turns out, this list could go on much longer than the list of negatives that’s been floating through my mind these last few months, and for that, I am truly thankful. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Peace.
…the tough make elk stew. On the theory that a little comfort food would go a long way toward soothing our souls, and with one last roast from the elk our friend Kate gave us last year sitting in the freezer, Weston and I went to work. We cut, floured and browned the elk, then tossed it into a big pot with a little water to slow cook to savory, tender awesomeness. After a couple hours, we added carrots, potatoes, onions, green beans, mushrooms–all chopped into generous bite-sized pieces by Weston–to the pot and let it simmer for another half hour. Simple, comforting, and mouth-wateringly good. (That’s the sous chef below, showing off his work.)
Kate’s in Montana now, chasing elk around once again. Here’s to her tipping over another one just as delicious as this one. We’re already looking forward to helping her eat it.
Halo, the ultimate existentialist and eternal optimist, reminds us on this tough day, that the sun still came up this morning (sort of, here in the rainy Pacific Northwest), everything’s going to be alright (as long as we have stuffed animals to carry around), and most importantly, that all we need is love. And more stuffed animals. And bacon.
In dog we trust.
After two book tours and countless other talks and readings, I can say without reservation that Wednesday night was one of those times when it all comes together. Great crew of readers on top of their game, engaged audience, beautiful venue, fun people to hang with, and high spirits. And beer. It was an honor, and my good luck, to be a part of it.
From left, that’s Jason Rolfe (WOTF instigator and MC), Kate Taylor, Cameron Scott, me, Cameron Chambers, Copi Vojta (WOTF photo exhibit curator), and Steve Duda. Kate did a beautiful reading of her story, “The Road Goes On Forever”, Scott gave me goosebumps with “Scout Captions” and other poems from The Book of Cold Mountain, Chambers made us all laugh with a new story about getting lost and excerpts from his book Chasing Rumor, and Duda had us laughing and crying with his heartfelt story about cliff swallows and an ode to all the flies dangling from the dashboard of his truck.
I drove home exhausted, voiceless (literally) and, for the first time in quite a while, inspired to get back to work on my novel. A huge and heartfelt thank you to Rolfe for inviting me to read, to everyone who was there to make it a fantastic night, and to tour sponsors Patagonia and The Flyfish Journal. Note: The WOTF Cascadia Tour continues–without me–tonight in Bellingham and tomorrow in Vancouver, BC. Wish I could be there.
Well, it’s done. I wish I could say I felt a little more enthusiastic about voting this year, but to be honest, I’m not feeling it. When it comes to the presidential race, it seems more like obligation or responsibility than privilege this time around. Now, I didn’t need it to be the electric charge of ’08, or even the more restrained version of 2012. But I think over the last eight years, I’ve come to take it for granted that I would want to hear whatever our President had to say, that it would be delivered with grace and integrity, that whether I agreed with what was being said or not, that it would come from a place of respect and thoughtfulness.
But I also understand that whatever ambivalence I may feel about the personalities at the top of the ballot, this is a critical election. If we care about climate change, public-land access, healthcare, education, fair treatment for all citizens, who sits on the Supreme Court and the decisions they’ll make, we have to vote. This is a big one. We have to cast our ballots and shape the future of this country. That’s our privilege.