We Cast Off — Again
After completing the laborious task of reformatting and uploading nearly 1,000 previously published columns, we wrote the first new article for this site just one year ago today. At the time, it was our settled intention to continue a tradition of weekly columns that began in 1999, when our debut piece for what was then Paddling.net appeared. But as someone — Churchill, perhaps, or was it Keynes? — once observed, sensible people change their minds whenever circumstances change. And since we like to think we’re sensible people, we’ve done just that. So this will be our last new Back in the Same Boat column. If you’d like to know why, read on.
by Tamia Nelson and Farwell Forrest | October 31, 2018
The summer just past was preternaturally hot and humid, a harbinger of summers yet to come in our New Model Climate. It was also preternaturally lifeless. We saw no bats, few warblers or flycatchers, and even fewer butterflies. As for the once-ubiquitous blackflies and mosquitoes, they’ve long been absent from nearby woods and waters, victims of a publicly funded poisoning campaign that began before our first column appeared in 1999. The local chambers of commerce … Read more »
The Maternal Line
A father. His daughter. His daughter’s daughter. A river. No, that’s not right. The River. Theirs is a story that began long ago. But it hasn’t ended yet. And The River flows through it.
by Tamia Nelson | May 10, 2018
The girl found The River irresistible. Whenever she could, she scrambled over the cliff that rose precipitously from the swift waters. The snowmelt‑swollen spring torrents carved deep potholes in the cliff’s sheer walls, and when the floods receded, the girl sometimes found stranded trout in those dark recesses, swimming frantically in futile circles. That’s when she taught herself how to tickle trout, catching the imprisoned fish in her hands before returning them to The River. It was a difficult job, even a dangerous one at times, but seeing the trout swim free was all the reward that she asked — or wanted.
When she wasn’t climbing the cliff, the girl often dabbled in The River’s shallows, turning over cobbles to see who might be living under them. And sometimes she spent hours doing nothing more than watching The River flow — watching as it swirled around boulders, leapt over drops, and then reared up in steep standing waves, only to subside into ripples … Read more »
Eulogy for an Old-Timer
Jack was a bit of a bastard, really, but he had a soft spot for birds, chipmunks, and his beloved mountains. He also had a soft spot for me. And though he died many moons ago this month, but he’s still with me every day.
by Tamia Nelson | April 14, 2018
He died nearly half a century ago this April, at the age of sixty-five. It wasn’t an easy death. He “died hard,” as folks used to say. I won’t kid you. He was no saint. He was a bit of a bastard, in fact. Still, he had his reasons. He packed a lot into his sixty-five years. He raised three kids on little or nothing. A fourth, his youngest son, drowned one winter when he broke through the ice on a local lake. What with one thing and another, he never had an easy life. He lived through two major wars, several diphtheria epidemics, and a depression — and that wasn’t all. But he never lost his love for his mountains.
His name was Jack. His last name doesn’t matter. He didn’t have much use for last names, to tell the truth. He started … Read more »
Learning to See
Happy Are the Painters
When a Christmas Eve fire left Tamia with little more than the clothes on her back, she mourned the loss of her camera and photos. But out of this loss came something of enduring value: She learned to see again. And so can you.
by Tamia Nelson | March 23, 2018
Originally published in very different form on June 6, 2000
Nearly forty years ago, Farwell and I made our first home together in what had once been the servants’ quarters of an imposing Victorian manse. Then, on Christmas Eve, the century-old structure burned to the ground. As luck would have it, we were away from home at the time, visiting family, but we didn’t escape unscathed. Except for an aging Volkswagen Beetle and the clothes on our backs, the flames consumed everything we owned.
This blow fell hard on us. We had no insurance, for one thing. Still, although we missed our tent, our sleeping bags, our climbing gear, and our books, the losses I felt most keenly were my treasured Nikon camera and my collection of photographic slides and prints, a collection which had filled dozens of steel boxes. From the … Read more »