Fishing with Big Blue(Malone, by the upper Moira River - August 7th, 2006)
To celebrate the August holiday Monday, I hung out at my Malone property. The heat wave was starting to break, & as there were no outstanding projects for me to do around the shack, I decided to fish. There's a shallow pool just to the right below the shack, & on my third or fourth cast I caught a pan-size smallmouth. It was a great feeling knowing I can catch my dinner within yards of the cooking area. But as always I put the little fighter back.
It was now the heat of the day, & not the smartest time to lug pails of water for my transplanted evergreens. I decided to fish the upstream pool above the flat rocks through the sacred cedar grove. As always the cool shady beauty of the cedars exerted its calming effect, & when I emerged into sunlight the silvery mineral veins glinted on the old lava flow. For the first time I caught a smallmouth in this pristine spot. After a few more unsuccessful casts I stopped fishing to roam the drought-dry riverbed and admire the dozens of kettle holes pockings. The narrowed river swirled from mini waterfall - pool - waterfall. Everywhere suiseki stones revealed their millennia-shaped beauty which would make one a millionaire in Japan.
Time to head back to the shack & drink more Gatorade & gin (the beer store being closed for the hol). Rounding the final bend in the trail a subtle motion across the river made me stop. The great blue heron also paused to eye his fellow fisherman, & deciding I was no challenge, resumed his Zen slow stalking:
eyes his competition's
I returned to my perch on the shack's porch, sipped my horrible drink, and watched Big Blue's methodical approach:
as the minnow disappears
down the heron's bill
For half an hour Big Blue stalked with zazen patience while I sat in semi-stoned awe. In and out of secret pockets and across shallows, until with no warning he took flight.
A neighbour visited, and hours of fishing & chatting followed, Big Blue forgotten, not even mentioned. My guest departed, & halfway through my dinner's sub sandwich, a swoosh of greyblue wings announced Big Blue's return - exactly to the spot he'd left hours before.
Marmora, Ontario, Canada
An Appreciation by Katherine Gordon
"Good to share the ephemeral connections to fish, flight, water, blue beauty and the orphanage of humanity on this tree of life. I live in the Eramosa River valley, hear the great blue and little green, watch the intricate balance of river life and sometimes integrate all my molecules with this vibrant chain, shaman-like in transformation. Such a summer-slice you have sent us. I will cherish it. Appreciatively, Katherine.
Notes: My webmaster, Weed, kindly posted this online some years ago. Weed is very tech knowledgeable, and he created the tag reference for "shaman haibun" I believe. Fishing with Big Blue has remained the top listing for shaman haibun in Google ever since - I suspect Weed and I have coined a new literary genre, the shaman haibun. I googled this yesterday, and there are now over 2,000 sites listed under this topic.
Fishing with Big Blue is included in my 2008 book, ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun, published by Hidden Brook Press in 2008.
published in The Link, Summer Solstice issue 2013, page 12
(with thanks to Ursula Pflug, literary editor)