Worth a Glance: "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson

I just finished Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods.” I’m sure many of you have read it or heard of it. It is an account of Mr. Bryson’s time spent hiking the Appalachian Trail. It is an easy and funny read. Most importantly, he takes the reader along with him. By the end of the book, I felt I was right there, feeling the same bitter sweet thoughts that the satisfyingly difficult journey was over.

I also was reminded of the simple truth that time spent in the outdoors brings appreciation for the outdoors.

If you are looking for a good book this summer or would like to learn a little more about the Appalachian Trail and haven’t read Bryson’s book, I highly recommend you do. You won’t be sorry.

In Which I Re-discover a Book that Changed My Life

There are a lot of people who think really insightful things. Some of them, can convey them with speech, written word, or both. ( follow the link, when you get a chance. it’s better written word than what you’ll find here 🙂 For me, Jean Craighead George thought and said something really, really worthwhile. Thankfully, he wrote it down. It was delivered to me in the form of children’s fiction literature.

It wasn’t until I came across his book in grade school, that I really began to daydream about my relationship with the outside world around me. It took a story about Sam Gribley, a runaway from New York City, to show me how intimate the outdoor world could be.
I swung by my parent’s house a week or so ago, and I found the book on the shelf in my old bedroom. I find it funny that such a short book can be the reason I have practically fantasized that I was Will Smith from “I am Legend” or Tom Hanks in “Castaway.”
Long ago, David sat reading “My Side of the Mountain” and believed that could be me. I could hollow out a tree. Learn to live off that land. Find peace in the noises of the forrest. But when it came time to commit and really run away, I got only as far as those before me. I packed my ninja turtle suitcase, considered the inconvenience of having to come home to make my daily peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and decided it wasn’t worth the effort.
I think that is why, whenever I read about someone else’s grand, outdoor journey, get a chance to sit in the quite of the wilderness, or see a photo that transports me to a place of untouched beauty and solitude, I simultaneously feel at home and a pang of longing to be closer to the wild. Closer to the Earth and her animals. Further from fumes and concrete. I love the natural world, and always wish I could be as close to it as Sam Gribley.

If you get a chance this summer, read it again or for the first time. Maybe read or give it to a child. It has directly and indirectly given me so much joy, I can hardly believe it.
Let me take a moment to point out the title of this post. “In Which I Re-discover a Book that Changed My Life.” I didn’t say “the” book that changed my life. I acknowledge there are many more books important to me.

Do you have a book or story that impacted you unlike any other?

Saturday Morning Hodgepodge

On several occasions this week, I’ve thought about a few possible posts, but haven’t found the time to get anything written down. So today, I’ve got a hodgepodge of topics for you all to consider.

1. Big Horn River Fly Box

With my April trip to the Big Horn quickly approaching, I’ve been trying to conservatively fill my fly box with some standard flies that will give me a head start. As I’ve never been out there before and also never fished for trout on a bigger river like this, I’m looking forward to using new techniques and learning a lot. I also realize my lack of experience (out there or anywhere) means I could easily fill my fly box with useless flies (for this trip). That is why I’m only tying a few of each.

Anyway, I’ve added a couple attempts at a Ray Charles as wells a few different San Juan Worms. Hopefully they’ll get wet. (The camera batteries were dead so I used my phone. That means poorer res. Sorry.)

2. Learning how trout think.

I followed the ways of the Winona Fly Factory and purchased a pretty sweet book on half.comfor about $8 after s&h. The book is called The Mind of the Trout by Thomas C. Grubb, Jr. Great name for a guy who likes fish. This is essentially a review of countless studies investigating the way fish, mostly salmonoid species process information or “think” and how that relates to their behavior. With many corollaries to fishing, this stuff is great for the angler who wants to understand why may decide to take or pass up your fly, or simple how they vision and memory work at a physiological level. It isn’t a long book, but it is dense with thought provoking questions and proposals with next steps in research to understand more about trout behavior. About 170 pages. I’m plowing through it.

The tips I learned last night (more importantly, I learned why): older/bigger trout have better vision, so stalk carefully.

3. Rediscovering some music.

I’ve always been really into music. Whether it is listening or playing. I started on classic rock and contemporary tunes. I really got into Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton for a while. It wasn’t until middle school that I had my first infatuation with a band. Dave Matthews Band. For probably about 7 years, he was about all I listened to. I attended several concerts, found bootlegs performances, learned to play his songs, and on and on.

Then I started to explore other musicians, Damien Rice, The Streets, Franz Ferdinand, Regina Spektor, Neil Young, yada yada yada. I’ve been aware of his last few releases, but really haven’t pursued them. I guess I needed time to explore some other sounds.

Well, thanks to my local public library with their sweet music selection, I stumbled across a Dave Matthews and Time Reynolds live at Radio City Music Hall album. It was like I was re-discovering my old DMB crush. I’ve had a lot of fun driving around listening and singing to the cds probably looking quite silly.