As Steven Meyers writes, an odyssey need not involve a long journey, simply a profound one. First drawn to Lime Creek for its fly fishing, this stream serves as Meyers’s muse in seven transcendent essays that explore journeys in the discovery of self, of home, and what it means to be human. The essays also explore loss and grief, of finding healing in the powerful presence of nature and in the awareness and experience of natural cycles. The tender eloquence of his writing and his compassion for all living things make for a contemplation of place in the tradition of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Desert Solitaire.
About the Author
Steven began his post-college career as a banker in New York City but quickly discovered that banking was not his calling. After completing graduate studies in Chicago, he moved to Denver to take a job with a small publishing company, Sundance Publications. Meyers has called the San Juan Mountains of Colorado home since the spring of 1976 when Sundance relocated to Silverton. When the publishing company returned to Denver, Meyers chose to stay in the mountains. In 1987, he moved downriver to Durango.
In addition to working for the publishing company, during his time in the region he worked in the Sunnyside Mine as an electrician, as a member of a backcountry surveying crew and as an instructor in the Ski School at Purgatory Ski Area. For twenty-four years he was a member of the professional guide staff at Duranglers Flies and Supplies. During this time he also worked as a photographer and writer. His large format, black-and-white landscapes of the American West have appeared in juried shows across the country. While active as a photographer, he was represented by Alonzo Gallery in New York City.
Steven has taught English and Writing at Fort Lewis College since the winter of 2000. His writing has appeared in his published books and also in numerous national publications and journals. In 1981 he was the Colorado Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts, Honored Artist. In 1992 he was awarded Colorado Council on the Arts/Western States Arts Foundation CoVisions Grant. The Colorado Endowment for the Humanities has twice named him the Colorado Journeys featured author (1996, 2004).
Read an Excerpt
The morning I spent photographing along the stream and in the dense groves of aspen that bordered the creek near where I had camped. My mood was quiet and my pace slow. Photographing is something like fishing. If you arrive in the woods with your adrenaline pumping and rush about madly exposing film, little that is good emerges. After time passes and you assume a less frantic pace, images start to come. The previous day and the night in the woods had already slowed me down, and I was seeing a great deal. After a few hours the sun rose above the shoulder of Twilight, and the light, though beautiful, became too harsh for the pictures I had in mind. I sat beside the stream to rest, empty my mind and enjoy the first rays of the sun. As I sat, I heard two sharp cracks, like those of a nearby rifle, and then heard a tremendous crashing. What I saw was a tall, dead aspen tree plunging to earth, its age having weakened it to the point where it could no longer stand against gravity. The earth pulled it down to the forest floor, where it would decay and become soil.
This is a relatively simple event that must happen many times a day in the hundreds of millions of acres of forest on this earth, but it was an extremely startling event to me. I have had limbs come down around me and even seen a few trees fall during storms. Never before, however, had a tree come down near me when there was no breath of wind and no apparent reason for it to choose that moment to fall. The morning, which had begun with magical light, was becoming more magical by the minute. When I rose to walk back to camp, a mule doe that had come close by, probably not seeing me, was startled by my appearance and bounded off into the woods, her hooves hitting the dirt and launching her into flight, four hooves at once, with a sound that I felt in my chest as much as I heard with my ears. Yes, this was indeed a special morning.
Later I broke camp, but before wading across the pool with my pack and moving on, I decided to search the water to see if there was any sign of the large fish I had spotted the previous evening. After a few minutes I saw a disturbance that might have simply been the water's flow broken by an irregularity in the rock wall at the edge of the pool, but having seen a good fish there the evening before, the disturbance took on new meaning. Even though I had little evidence to support the conviction, I knew it was a fish. My first cast to the spot was about a foot short, but my second was dead on, and a massive head slowly came out of the water to inhale my fly. When I struck, the fish dove for his home. I was able to force him out into the pool, where he raced about frantically, leaping, tail-walking, trying to escape. Several minutes later, I was supporting with both hands a 14-inch, fat-bellied, brilliantly colored rainbow trout, moving him gently back and forth in the shallow water at the tail of the pool. When released, he went straight for the undercut ledge of the rock wall. The pool had yielded what was, for Lime Creek, a very large trout, and also one of its secrets.
My hike back to the car through a sunlit autumn aspen wood was slow and filled with thoughts. Any fisherman understands the joy of finally seeing a large fish in a pool where for years he had suspected one, and the added joy of solving the problem of how to land it. Any photographer appreciates the pleasure of a morning spent deep in the woods with glowing light and the white bark of aspen. Any hiker knows the joy of a day, a night and a morning out in the woods, self-contained and happy. There had been all of this, and more: a crashing tree, a bounding deer, water ouzels moving upstream with me as I fished, ground squirrels and chipmunks chattering to me from streamside, a splendid wood, a glorious stream, narrow gorges and open riffles. After learning the joy of sharing this place with another and seeing it with her eyes, I was back. This time I was alone, but being alone was not the same anymore.
As the seasons move, we move, going through similar circumstances, but never in quite the same way. There is an old saying that you never set foot in the same river twice. Its flowing water changes. Cycles do not move in empty, meaningless circlesspring to summer, summer to fall, and fall to winteronly to repeat. As the seasons change, time passes and things grow. Some things die. No two autumns are alike. The world is filled with the processes of life, and time is not a simple matter of trajectories. Events are not predictable, and our cycles are not circles, they are spirals. Alone for me now means having been with someone. Alone is different for not always having been alone.
Table of Contents
Preface to the WestWinds Press Edition
Chapter 1 Of Meatballs, Swiss Cheese, and Sponges
Chapter 2 A Gothic Romance
Chapter 3 The Fisher and the Marten
Chapter 4 On Being Human
Chapter 5 Thoughts from the Real World
Chapter 6 Weaving the Tapestry
Chapter 7 The Naming of Names