A little over a month from now, a magical porthole in my life—known as the McCloud River—will open for a six-month season for me and my Tenkara rods. For me to elaborate on how magical that river is to me would be an exercise in overexposure. But I can elaborate on very real—if not slightly abstract—by-products it provides me—even if I am not yet there.
There are places along that river that have given me some of the most solitary moments of my life. Rivers alone can do that, but wild, ancillary nature of that river gives me schadenfreude every single time I’m near it. Some 17 years ago, I found myself hydraulically pinned to a boulder when I slipped off in a place called Ash Camp. I was alone. I was ONE unsuccessful foot-lunge away from drowning and being found days later—still pinned to that boulder.
I’ve flown the seven-mile dirt hazards into Ah-Di-Nah like a Kamikaze, with a Rascal Flatts serenade ameliorating me against the potential for bears, flat tires, and even worse—other people.
Yet, I’ve sat on those boulders with a ukulele and simply played the opening strains to an instrumental I wrote that invokes the distance of the moon’s reach in its title—devoid of a fly rod at all. It was a moment that I have little hope of recapturing. Those opening strains represent some meteoric moments to me—their reverberations off the canyon walls are still echoing . . . somewhere. I doubt I will ever finish it, however. Even the moon can leave you sitting on those rocks. And echoes sometimes decide that they will never return again . . .
The river takes on a sort of structural doppelganger to the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe—a literal porthole to a Narnia in my head that I cannot adequately express. It is because of this inability to express its magnitude that I have never tried to walk another human being through that threshold (or not entirely). Mainly because a simple lack of belief in Narnia would be enough to discredit me, and cause the polished-oak panel in the back to make me look like a raving fool. Oh . . . Sure, I’ve had people with me—but they got there on sheer terra-firma—not through the musty, closeted coats and tattered tunics that lead one to the snowy parameters of the magical land I have come to know.
And now, I know for sure. It was always supposed to be that way. I enter that world alone. And I’m content to accept that my particular vision is singular—that I am the only one that can see Beulah Land with an existential credibility. I’ve been mistaken before. This crazy caravan called “life” has afforded me one celestial moon by which to write half the soundtrack to my own personal Narnia. Getting sucked back through the wardrobe in retrograde light-speed is not nearly as fun. And somewhat depressing.
I’m waiting to see if it ever shows up again. I know this. I’ll be on that river . . . somewhere. But the moon is going to have to have to shine. The wardrobe will have to find itself sitting nested in the trees. I’m not waiting around with a uke in my hand, hoping it does . . . because pointless screaming in the caravan is stupid—when the echoes are content to be silent. My hope is, I hear an echo from somewhere soon–before I give up on writing that song entirely . . .