If more people spent a quiet hour along a river, listening to the currents run and break and bubble over rocks and washed-down tree limbs and branches, and reaching in, feeling the cold streams icy on fingers and toes, I believe we, collectively, would treat our water, trees, land, and selves, better. There are few places where our connectedness is more apparent, where our system of give and take, the cycles and rhythms of nature and seasons and ecology–ours, our earth’s–is present, perfect, but now, unfortunately, fragile.
When we convene with cold water, we remember. If we are lucky enough to inconvenience a few trout, gently, for a minute, we remember why cold waters are important. These fish are trophies, not for size, or for keeping, but for giving back and remembering that the smallest ones can have the biggest heart, the most spirited fight.
We can fight like them, for them, and for us. For if the trout leave us, if we destroy their cold waters and rich streams, we have nothing left. Or, as angler and author Thomas McGuane wrote,
“If the trout are lost, smash the state.”
A warning, not for political rebellion, but for us to remember our responsibility to keeping our waters healthy, clear, and cold.
If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend watching Cold Waters, a Conservation Hawks short film, as a starting place. And let us continue to do what we can, when we can, to limit our impact, to keep our streams clean, to pick up after ourselves and others, to let the little ones go, to take a quiet moment stream side, to feel the cold waters and hear the life in their steady stream, and to remember that we are all connected.
“Eventually, all things merge into one,
and a river runs through it.”
– Norman Maclean