As we were returning from a trip to the Klamath River to fish for Steelhead, we traveled through Redding, California. I'd long been interested in the so-called "Sundial Bridge", which spans the Sacramento River there. The bridge will celebrate it's tenth anniversary in several weeks. Designed by the Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, to resemble a sundial, it was quite controversial when built. Now, however, the citizens of Redding seem to have taken to it; I find it to be a thing of beauty.
This blog started out as a way of practicing a bit of writing. I thought maybe it might be nice to try to set down some words on paper, and see if I had any talent for that. Since I like to fly fish for trout, I thought stories about my adventures trying to lure the wily fish to my fly would serve as a vehicle upon which to build some story. Friends were very supportive, and I'm grateful. But I don't think writing is the thing that floats my creative boat. Since I was a boy I have taken ("made" if you prefer Ansel Adams' admonition) photographs. In those early days my father paid for the camera, paid for the film, paid the cost of developing it. We would travel on a vacation trip, and I would make pictures. I was always disappointed with the outcome. The sky was not blue enough, or it was too blue; colors were not rich enough, or were not the same as the colors I thought I had seen. In short, I was completely unschooled in the art of photography. Notwithstanding, I took all of the action shots of my high school football team for all four of my high school years. I shot those with high speed black and white film, Kodak Tri-X. In those days the rating was "ASA", not the modern "ISO". As I recall, the ASA on Tri-X was 400, meaning it was pretty fast. I stopped the football in mid-air as it left the quarterback's hand. I loved it. I got away from photography for years, but occasionally went back. But recently, as I approached retirement, I began to renew my affair with it. Henri Cartier-Bresson, a famous French photographer of the early twentieth century said that "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst". Well, I'm at about 7,000 now. I know enough to know what is wrong with a photograph. I have a collection of approximately 5500 photos on disc, and I go through them from time to time, culling ones that I believe are hopeless, and viewing others with some idea of making an interesting photo. Recently, I happened upon a photo I took about five years ago. I'd looked at it many times in the past, and always thought it was nice. I've now come to believe it is the best photograph I've ever taken.
Yosemite always gives you something. I missed the "Moonbow" on the night of the "Full Flower Moon" because I was not in the right place to see it. Once I found the right place, it was gone. But I did find the Big Dipper hanging above the Falls.
Young people are frequently heard to say that something is "awesome". I suppose that is intended to mean that something inspires awe. It is my age, I guess, that dictates that I'm not inclined to use that phrase as much. Here then is my humble offering of something that I can describe as "awesome". I sincerely hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I did capturing them.
Jamison walked into the bar in the little town figuring to get himself a drink and maybe a sandwich. He'd heard that the town had been a real gold rush town at one time, and was curious. Folks in the bar were friendly enough until he causally asked "So...where's all the gold mines"? Things in the bar got quiet. He decided it was time for him to leave. He needed to find a place to stay for the night, and he hadn't seen any accommodations in the little town.
As he was leaving, a woman who appeared to be the madam of the local whorehouse came up to him. He thought at first that she was going to invite him to come to her place, and was surprised when she began to speak to him of the reason for the silence in the bar a few moments earlier.
"You know" she said, "there's three working mines hereabouts. Folks don't really like to talk about them, especially not the fellows who own the claims. That fella down at the end of the bar from you is the most successful miner around this neighborhood." She finished with an invitation to him to come back when he could visit for a bit longer.
He thought about that as he headed back down the narrow mountain road in the direction from which he'd come. He'd crossed a bridge over the river some miles back, and had noticed that there was an old log cabin a bit downstream from it that appeared to be deserted.
"Why not give that a try"? he thought. "If it really is deserted, it may be a place I can use while I see what this little no-where town has to offer".
Lyle Jamison came to the little gold rush town that year lookin' for whores, whiskey and gold, and maybe a little fishin' if time permitted. He found it all, except for the gold. The river below the bridge was filled with Salmon and Steelhead in the winter, trout and smallmouth bass all year round. Since the whores and whiskey cost money, and Lyle didn't have any, fishin' became a full time occupation.
He'd come from Kentucky chasing a dream, or maybe running away from one. California, he'd heard, was the promised land, a good place to make a new start. The hunting and fishing were good, there was plenty of money, and it's laws and women were loose. That all sounded good to him.
He'd been riding for several days to get here. It was quiet and dusty, a mountain version of Yuma. Nobody really set out to be there; they just found themselves in the place, and there didn't seem to be a better alternative. There were a couple of dogs running in the street, with a few people moving up and down the walkway. The only sound came from the breeze moving through the trees that lined both sides of the road into the town.
Jamison had spent a good part of his young life studying subjects that didn't interest him very much. Physics fascinated him, but he knew enough to know that he didn't understand it at all. What did interest him was the outdoors. His time as a boy had been spent in the woods, and on the rivers and streams of Kentucky. Along with his friend, he hunted and fished at every opportunity. He felt at home in the woods, at ease. He was absorbed by the beauty of the country in full fall color, by the feel of a cold autumn morning as it turns warm, and the sweet smell of alfalfa at the end of a hot day of baking under that sun.
I grew up in Kentucky, and learned to fly fish on small ponds and lakes, mostly for Bluegill, but sometimes for Largemouth Bass. After I moved to California following my return from Vietnam, and thanks to the help of a couple of women who knew me better than I knew myself, I came back to my boyhood love of fly fishing.