On Names

On Names

Hells Canyons and Deadman’s Runs; Dismal and Snake Rivers; Bitch and Old Woman Creeks. I wonder how many beautiful places are hidden by word associations, by assumptions, by places we’re led to believe we’d rather not go. Is it intentional, this naming away the crowds? 

Probably, based on my own behavior. I don’t bother for large, recognizable waters. The places everyone knows and goes. But for small, public waters… I trust the power of names to take care.

This isn’t pet naming though, where the individual ceases—and becomes hon, hubby, The Wife—lumped into an anonymous cloud of unanimous affection. We’ve grouped “likeness” together since Big Bird sang us happy songs.

Waters are personal, coming from experience and memory, not guidebooks or online reports. And we have names for those we cherish. On the Blackfoot, the Big Thompson, the Blue, there are favorite spots: a particularly good run, logjam pool, a nice bank of grass where you sat and ate lunch with a man you’d rather not name.

For those we love, it’s often their quirkiness that makes them ours. It’s what we notice that others don’t, haven’t, won’t—that’s when we fall in love and what with.

Sometimes I feel silly and over-protective, the miserly-mouthed opposite of stereotypical angler aggrandizements. Slow fishing; Might be some winter-kill; Only a few bluegill at best. I talk myself down to nubbins—like a 5th grader chewing on a #2 pencil.

I start to taste the lead.

But when a carp eagerly takes my fly and I set the hook hard, ready to fight, and when I release a bass that otherwise would have been put in someone’s bucket, when I’m alone in the kingdom I’ve fashioned through research, reconnaissance, miles-walked. When I think about what to call this place that anyone could find if they put in the effort—it should be something, I think, that will keep on keeping away the crowds.

For more of Erin's work, visit https://erinblock.wordpress.com/

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