I caught 7 steelhead and an 18 pound fall chinook in 4 full days of fishing. Fall chinook season closed Dec. 31 so that fish was released. When it rains hard after a long dry spell, it is a spectacular time to be on creeks and rivers. Headed from Whidbey toward Tillamook, I saw a Rumi poem on the side of Khosro Peiravi’s Uncle Sporty’s Guns and Ammo in Clatskanie so I had to stop and check his 50 percent off sale (503-728-2712). Clatskanie was the birthplace of poet and story writer Raymond Carver. One can imagine yet another store owner bitterly complaining about the recession but not Peiravi. Instead, this was a “retirement sale” and words of the Rumi poem on the side of his store went deeper and truer than most. Inside, Peiravi smiled when I asked if he was a poet. “I was raised reading Rumi and Hafiz,” he said. I mentioned that Rumi was one of my favorite writers, bought some fishing gear at 50 percent off, and left my book River Walker for his writer-son David.
I recall 14th century Persian poet Hafiz wrote, “Love kicks the ass of time and space.”
Speaking of poetry, Rain Magazine at nearby Clatsop Community College printed my poem about Raymond Carver and Clatskanie in their current issue. I greatly enjoyed attending the Ray Carver Festival at Peninsula Valley College in May where I wrote poems in the Longhouse under the guidance of creative teachers Alice Derry and Kate Reavey, met the fine Olympia poet Lucia Perillo, and after her reading bought a signed copy of her award-winning book On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths. That last word-Deaths-provides a good transition to my next paragraph. (A student at ratemyprofessors.com wrote about me, “[Starbuck] can really go off on a tangent at times, but he always comes back to the subject at hand.” About that, I’m guilty as charged.)
Anyway, death. On the river a big wind storm came up and knocked over giant trees which sounded like shotgun blasts as they fell. Three giant Humbaba-like sentinels fell within about 40 yards, so I made each cast count because I knew if one of those trees hit me, it would be instant access to steelhead heaven. Two deer hurriedly crossed the river below perhaps because the sound of snapping trees made them recall hunters taking shots at them in October, or maybe they were heading for safer meadows to wait out the windstorm. I have incurable steelhead fever so I would either hook steelhead or die trying.
Another day, I stumbled across a heard of elk. I spoke to an old commercial fisherman who gave me private access so the elk and I had a good stretch of riverfront to ourselves Saturday. Elsewhere some highly-successful and friendly locals taught me about bead fishing (David), yarn fly fishing (Steve), and ways to get more strikes (Pat). I watched Steve hook five steelhead in about an hour. People-fish-tree-bird-animal-river-creek-sea creature communities of the Washington and Oregon coasts will always be magic to me.