Saturday, June 20, 2009

Portland, Maine to Portland, Or

My family is bi-coastal. I have lived in Maine for over 15 years of my life and now Oregon for over seven years. They share similar features in the love their natural gifts inspire in others and their offbeat sense of who they are. They inspire geographic egocentricity. I have hiked, camped and boated extensively in both states and they are both counterfoils. Maine is deciduous woods, ancient mountains, stunning islands and coastal fog. Oregon has volcanic peaks, sun blasted high chaparral, sage brush, and rivers that flow as blue as Paul Newman's eyes. It's ocean is less forgiving, a wild animal, whose intent is always to be questioned. I have come to love them both but sadly I can only live in one place at a time. At this point in my life I do not foresee returning to live in Maine, in no small part because of children and work. The common thread that runs through all this is my love of flyfishing and need to get out on a regular basis to immerse myself in the surroundings and feel the pull.

As I sit here at my desk in Oregon, I am buffeted by memories of cruising Casco Bay or the Elizabeth Islands, expectancy thrumming through the rigged lines, feeling the hull rise and fall atop the gentle swells and watching for birds or a place where the clues give rise to fish beneath. fishing acts a s a bridge between human and nature, leaving one constantly alive in the present yet always searching for new means of connecting. The Elizabeth Islands, for one, a archipelago stretching from Woods Hole, Massachusetts south, and owned almost entirely by the Forbes family, remains largely undeveloped. You find quintessential striped bass habitat along its shores, huge glacial rocks jutting twenty feet from the bottom, tidal rips caused by water forced through narrow funnels of land, coves that trap bait, and Vineyard Sound's constant flushing action. I have seen the waves jumbled like granite chunks against each other, pyramiding ten feet, and glass-clear calm, where a mosquito's spit could be seen on the surface a mile away.

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