Photo by Davis Courneyea

A truly interested dabbler in most things, aficionado of small streams, and generally the outdoors, the arts, and sports; lover of creation, liverworts and all; collector of timeless treasure and prospector for hidden treasure; Celtic blood (from Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall) runs through his veins, and the little rivers charge his heart.


This is the hand writing of my great gramma inscribed to my grandpa, and it has done me good to read it as well.

I gather my family was “cleared” or practically evicted from their ancestral lands on the isle of Arran, and while they came to love Canada many were discouraged at first and remarked that if it was solid land they would’ve started walking back to Arran after they landed in Quebec. I’m blessed to be able to go back because I gather from the book that “few of those who sailed were ever again permitted to gaze upon the Arran hills” or as the blind bard of the diaspora described “silvery streamlets where the hills of Arran swell, high above Lochranza’s shore”

The annals leave off with the insistence that “no one need feel that it is a bar to success to belong to the Clan Megantic,” so I feel trailing clouds of glory and all that

I also picked up an old book of songs from Robert Louis Stevenson, which I had procured while I was studying in Ottawa. The songs of travel and wistful and sad, but Stevenson was right when he wrote that when you read it is as if you reach out and make a friend. I plan on traveling with him in a couple weeks.

There was a game we called ‘scare’ I use to play with my brother and my dad. My dad would go upstairs and hide with the lights out at night, and then my brother and I would try to find him. It was just my brother and me close by each other in the dark. We knew our dad was there, and we also knew he would shock us every time we found him. We never tired of that game.

In Brueghel’s wedding banquet we see the gamut from a tale of two cities—the wine in the street and the blood in the street—we see the divine joyous overwhelming generosity and we see the base human needs and desires—in other words we see Jesus and we abundantly see why we need Jesus

I stopped at my friend’s lake on my way home from work—my auger needs to be sharpened or I need to replace the blades or something—it took forever to get through the 16 inches of ice—I used the seat I made out of a piece of scrap wood from my Grampa—and, although I didn’t find the crappie I’ve been looking for, I caught a couple decent size plump perch, so I plan to go back with some friends and catch a lunch worth of them for my friend who lives on the lake

Vignette # 10

“You’re brave to be here—this might not go well,” mumbled the giant young man with the chubby face, curly red hair, and little teeth. He sat on a plywood cajon, fingers crossed in his lap.

If you were at the bar yesterday, before open mic night, when it was an 80s dance night, you would’ve seen him swaying on the wall and about the leave embarrassed, until a pretty girl noticed him and they both danced so happily together.

He sang, and flipped between squeaking, screeching awkwardly torturous whines and pure, angelic tones, sometimes vibrating back and forth between those poles on a single note. It was a bizarrely transfixing performance. There was a long pause before people started clapping slowly, and on his way out a few people hugged him.

The Irish fellow who has been generously giving me advice to prepare for Ireland rivers told me small bead head hares ears and pheasant tails would be prudent to bring, and I know large dark olives are the earliest ones to show up and will likely be around when I’m there, so I tied up a few bead head olive nymphs—my first efforts at tying nymphs—I really like soft hackles so I tied a pheasant tail spider too

I’m rereading Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization in preparation for my first trip to Ireland, and it starts strikingly:

The monks preserved art and learning—these “outlandish oddities from a land so marginal that the Romans had not bothered to conquer it, by men so strange they lived in little huts on rocky outcrops and shaved half their heads and tortured themselves with fasts and chills and nettle baths”

It caused me to think what wonderful thing is being ignored in a painful, strange, harsh place either on the land or within us?

I’ve been ice fishing all weekend and have only managed to catch a few small perch—our whole party has only caught one walleye. Still, ice fishing, along with trolling is more about being with a friend and telling stories and jokes—it’s social rather than the contemplativeness and stealth of small stream fly fishing. The dawn and dusk has been a feast for the eyes too.

I don’t plan on raiding any cattle on my trip and I’m not salmon fishing, so I won’t catch the salmon of knowledge living under the hazel. I am planning on fishing for wild brown trout in the burns, though, (perhaps I have caught their long separated cousins here on this side of the pond) so maybe I’ll catch the trout of simple joy and mirth

It’s a wonderful thing to recover friendship

I went out in the ice for the first time with season with an old friend. We were really close in high school but moved to different places and lost touch, then we both ended up back in our hometown together and it’s as fresh as ever. There’s nothing that beats an old, mature friendship—when it’s recovered from either distance or something else, it’s extra special, though.

I wasn’t technically skunked on this trip since I caught some fish, but I really wanted a couple nice walleye or a good mess of crappie for the table—instead I caught a pike, perch, and really surprisingly a largemouth bass. So, no fish on the menu—still a great day with a great friend

—and a Dr. Burke with calf tail for the wing (I have been corresponding with a gentleman of that name on the matter of rivers around Clogheen for my ancestral trip to Ireland, and he told me silver and black and Greenwell spiders work, so I tied a couple of them up with light yellow floss, so the olive thread will show through when it’s wet)