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I’ll be speaking on wolves in Oregon as part of the Oregon Wildlife Our Natural World series on January 28 in Medford, Oregon. You can find out more about the talk and reserve tickets, here: Natural World Lecture Series. I’d love to see you there!

Raising Gus

Issue 6.2 on news stands now. Issue 6.2 on news stands now.

The winter issue of The Fly Fish Journal is on the ground and it is beautiful with amazing photographs and strong storytelling throughout. I have a small piece titled Hunger at the front of the book; here’s an excerpt:

Sometimes the fishing is so good, the water so cold, the weather so perfect that we forget to eat. Hours stack up like firewood in September and suddenly we’re ravenous. If not addressed the hunger morphs into hanger turning even the politest mean and desperate. Like insects we search out the fluorescent lights of gas stations with their promises of Slim Jims, Little Debbies and corn chips.

If you have a chance, check out the entire 6.2 issue.

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It’s March 12, 2013. A Tuesday morning of no great import. Despite the snow we received last night, it’s starting to feel like spring. Daylight savings left us with light until 7 p.m. last night, and today’s avalanche center’s forecast warned that “the danger of encountering spandex-clad road bikers will be elevated by later this week.”

With longer days comes the illusion of more time. More time to get after it, to take on new projects, make new goals, revitalize old passions. Before my plate gets too full, I’m prioritizing. For the next 30 days, I’m going to write something that’s not assignment-based every day. It will be an experiment, an honest effort, sometimes a trial. It’s not NANOWRIMO, but it is an exercise to build strength.

What are you working on as we move into spring?

I’m doing a little house keeping around the site. Everything should be all bright and shiny soon. Thank you for your patience!

I woke up at six this morning, made coffee, read and wrote notes for three hours, took care of office work, ate a peach, a banana, some strawberries, a handful of dry cereal, went to the library, stared at the screen, went to the office in the attic of what I’m pretty sure used to be a brothel, got a splinter from the sheet of plywood I set up as a desk, wrote for another three hours, had a cookie, a cup of coffee, wrote some more, called a friend, called a parent, came back to the house, stood over the sink and ate a salad of mostly spinach and broccoli, weighed the pros and cons of making a press pot of coffee at 9:30 at night, had some juice instead, and then sat back down in front of the keys. I figure I have another two hours in me before rinse, wash, repeat for the next seven days. Bad habits die hard and big projects bring them out like nothing else.

Pretty hands don’t exist in the kitchen. There are no manicures. No pampered skin, nor painted nails. Instead there are calluses. Burns. A half-moon shaped cut that slices through the nail-bed to the quick requiring a trip to the Emergency Room and three stitches put in with strong black thread. …

For the full post and slideshow, visit: Barn and Table: Working Hands.

I easily turn shy. Something about being the focus of attention challenges me, and though I can usually get through it, my first reaction is normally to duck. Over the weekend it happened a few times. Here’s one:

It’s been snowing for the last few days. The local ski hill is scheduled to open this Wednesday for the season. I got heckled on Friday by folks who know my habits for not having hiked, yet. “What have you been doing? Running? Nordic? Nursing injury?”

Yeah. All of the above. But today I woke up and I could tell it was time.

The parking lot is filled with either couples or dudes. No women hiking together. No women hiking alone. I gear up, put in music, and start walking. One foot in front of the other and 45 minutes of bootpack gains a decent pitch, an open glade, and the promise of one huge backside slasher down low on skier’s left.

On the hike back up after my second lap, my goggles fog. At the top I take them off and set them on my base to clear, then wander over to look at line potential. When I get back, a skier has just topped out. He starts to put his skis down, then looks up and decides instead to come stand next to me. He’s nice, asks my name, makes small talk, asks if I’m doing another lap; the skier’s equivalent of, “Do you come here often?” I put my goggles back on and wish him a good run.

I wear a lot of black on the hill. Dress in layers, refuse the tapered waist. I tuck my braid under my hat and run mirrored lenses in my googles. Hiking, or on the lift with unfamiliar faces, I tend to keep my head down and hood up. Eighty percent of the time people assume I’m a young kid – a teenage boy. It’s caused a few problems over the years, like the time an older man tried to start a fight in lift line, only to be told in no uncertain terms by the local pack that pushing a girl was unacceptable. “I didn’t know…”

Most of the time, though, it works for me. It allows me to just be one more person out playing in the snow. To be pretty good. Rather than pretty good for a girl. I like it that way.

Here’s to a season of clear googles.

Straight from a run, covered in mud and sweat, I went to the grocery store to get bananas and coffee filters. Standing in the produce is a late 20s, early 30s couple. The guy is tall and scruffy in worn Carharts and Chacos. The gal is very pretty, rocking a bit of smudged mascara, nice boots and the hood up on her puffy. If I had to guess I’d say it was the morning after the 2nd date. The guy points out the Chanterelles in the case. The gal’s response, “I hate mushrooms.”

“Really?! You hate them?”  he says.

Then he looks at me over in banana land. And I sort of make this grimace, the uhoh-you’re-screwed-face. And he laughs. Out loud. “You think that’s a deal breaker,” he says. I sort of shrug and smile. Then the gal notices. He says, “She thinks this might be a deal breaker.” She’s not amused, and I’m a jerk.

She strides off, “Well, at least we’re having breakfast.”

Strike one up for the socially inept. I should get out more. Or less.

The Supersuckers are coming to central Oregon and will be playing live in the streets of downtown Bend this Saturday. You know you want to go.

She chases grasshoppers, but instead of running after them as her physiology would recommend, she follows their jumps with her own short bounds. Someone looking into the meadow from the road above might think her a tiny deer erupting out of the grasses like a child’s Jack-in-the-Box. Or perhaps they’d think her a rabbit. A conejita racing for her life, a fox hot on her heels. But no. She is just Em chasing hoppers toward the creek where waiting trout have the last laugh in the ripe golden sun of the first day of fall.