Sunday, June 15, 2014

A "tedious brief" Essay


                    How Anglers Got Their Literature
                         In the beginning was the Word
    And then, you and I came along to generate the Word, make it flesh, objectify it, give it body. And the Word continued to increase, each one of us imagining it over and over until its story gets told.

    For us anglers it had to start somewhere. Perhaps it began those eons ago with that little female hominid of whom I dream (shall we call her a “woman”?), who in her sluggish consciousness and those busy new thumb-like things, saw a fish hanging close-in to the bank of an equally sluggish African stream.   

   Something happened… something to do with her lying down, with those strange “thumb-parts” of her hand, deep in the water, going under that fish’s belly, and suddenly her lifting, tossing, throwing-- and the fish flies up out of the water onto the bank.

    She and her young ate it and it was good.

   I want to think that at that instant, the meager consciousness of her small brain conceived. She had thrown that fish not only onto the bank, but also into her brain where it lodged as an IDEA. There, like that original Word, it could reenact itself again tomorrow, and produce a new, another fish.

    With this, the little Mother of us all became the First Fisher. With her, angling and its literature were born.

   Should I go on Boulder creek tomorrow, I would, need to, put into practice, materialize, what she taught me of her primal IDEA, from that first literature, when that original fish entered our consciousness. She haunts me.

   But now, that I can no longer cope with the rigors of Boulder Creek, I am comfortably content with that Idea of Angling-- which serves to remind me of everything else under the sun, and keeps me and my Mac trying to write it all down-- before it’s too late.

Monday, June 2, 2014



Upon the death of a Friend

Golden lads and girls all must.
As chimney-sweepers come to dust.
Cymbeline, act iv

    Donald Grant Ralston left these Colorado mountains from his recent retirement in Texas on May 31, 2014. He was 87.
   Don came down to Boulder from Jim Town in 1939 with his father and mother, Lassus and Eunice Ralston to enter Northside Junior High School. Lassus had for sometime had been prospecting for gold around Jim Town and opened a producing tungsten mine in Boulder Canyon, just above Boulder Falls.
   With Don’s passing we have lost one of the last of the genuine hard-rock gold miners—all that his father had taught him of that great calling. Together they were the ideal of what it is to be an Old Timer.
   Don grew up in Boulder and was educated at the university. He prepared to teach English and taught briefly in Wyoming before his long and distinguished career in California-- with his big, liberal, skeptical mind.
   He married his Boulder sweetheart Donna Tomlin, who lived in the Whittier neighborhood of east Pine Street, the neighborhood that was to have such a profound effect on seven of its kids who ganged up there to hunt and fish, smoke their pipes, try to decide which was the greater music, the Wabash Canon Ball or the Overture to Tannhäuser, and to take their lives in earnest as they prepared to go to war when they graduated from Boulder High in 1944.
    They belonged to each other then and always.

    Let me call the roll:

 Ralph Metcalf, their head man (killed on Luzon, age 18)
Don Ralston
Frank Brady
Wes Jones
Alan Olson
Bill Rickard
Gordon Wickstrom

   I, Gordon Wickstrom, make this statement about our dear friend on behalf of myself and William H. Rickard, we two from east Pine, who remain of those golden lads of Boulder that the seven of us once were.
   We shall never again know that special heart’s grandeur of the old naval gunners mate Don Ralston—down in the mines, in those classrooms, on fishing trips to North Park. Nor shall we ever again rally to hear him inveigh against our national passion for wars and the injustices at home that support them.
    But we had him for a lifetime.