Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tell tale fish stories

WR Land Trust gathers around the Big Wood River

Express Staff Writer

"First Snow" by Michael Edminster is an image of the Big Wood River and was an entry in this year’s Heart of the Valley contest.

Story telling is an ancient way to gather people and celebrate a sense of community. Stories composed in the Wood River Valley tend to be about shared enjoyment of the natural surroundings. Understanding the importance of nature for valley residents, the Wood River Land Trust is hosting a winter Fish Tales event.

"It came out of the Heart of the Valley contest three years ago with a great fishing story on the Big Wood River," said event organizer Morgan Buckert. "We did it during the summer on the river a year and a half ago, and it was hard to get everyone to shut up."

Buckert said the stories should all center around the Big Wood River and participants can share any type of story.

"It is a family-friendly event so bring the kids," Buckert said. "I've had heard great stories from people who have lived here their entire life to 5-year-olds with their first fish story."

Fish Tales was inspired by Stephen Gerrish's "The Friend," the first-place writing entry at the third annual Heart of the Valley contest.

Gerrish wrote, "I love to fish the Big Wood. I usually fish alone, and find myself in places where I will not encounter others. The river courses this valley, its rhythm and flow connecting us, our towns and celebrations, ranches and mountain tributaries. But my relationship to the river is a private affair. My time on the river and my encounters—an elk in the middle of winter, an owl at dusk—hold as still in memory as a trout in current. I am selfish about this. So it was unusual when one September evening I encountered another man, fishing the Big Wood in West Ketchum, and we shared the river and our stories for a time.

"I was fishing upstream, casting to small eddies without much luck, but happy. A black bear lingering at the water's edge, preparing to cross and find a meal in town was as surprised as I was when we saw each other. She scrambled up the slope, waiting for her own private moment before crossing the river. Upstream I paused in the midst of a smooth glide, marked by several exposed boulders. I approached the first downstream rock, considering my options. Then I heard a voice call out, 'Hello friend!'"

Fish Tales takes place Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m. at Java's new location in the Merriweather Building in Hailey. For details, call 788-3947.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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