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I had Locke, NY in mind when I wrote this story.



Trout streams and Trout dreams


By James F Kirtland



     I dreamed of a trout stream last night. I was in a small upstate NY farm town where the residents entered the church on the top of the hill as the sun was rising and the April snows melted. This town smelled of cow slurry, and the farmhouses and polebarns needed painting. The townfolk dressed plainly and laughed over coffee and eggs at the family diner.

     Their lawns weren't manicured and the dandelions grew wild. Kids played ballgames in the streets while their cats and dogs roamed free. I bet that everybody knew the mailman by name, and the town clerk probably doubled as the cook at the diner. There was a homespun honesty about this place.

     Truth is a beautiful thing!

     At the very bottom of the valley lived the most gorgeous trout stream. It ran parallel with the main road, and zig-zagged underneath that road at several points. This stream probably had a name, but the locals referred to it as "the crick."

     My companions in the dream were a couple of old fishing buddies. Their names are Austin and Matt. Unfortunately, we lost touch long ago. Austin died behind the wheel in 2000, and Matt met a southern bell and moved to the Carolinas. We were the three amigos back in the day. I still visit with them regularly.... In my dreams.

     I was with them last night in that country town. We noticed the skunk cabbage and early spring tulips crawling gingerly up from the cold, muddy earth. We felt the first warm rush of spring air. We soaked up every bit of this natural splendor before we carefully approached the stream.

     Just downstream from a whitewater run laid two huge rainbows on a redd. Matt and Austin gave me the green light for first cast, but I passed it back to them. I have little interest in bragging rights these days, for I have long known that it isn't the trout that I am after. It is something much deeper than that.

     I'll leave the dream behind for just a moment to explain the depth of my love for fishing, and the reasons that I need it so much.

     I consider our planet as a living organism. The ocean is the heart. The rivers are the arteries, and the streams the veins. Water is the life's blood of our existence, and we are naturally inspired by it, and forever drawn to it. To be on the water during the April thaw with my dear old friends, saturates my soul and my spirit. It recharges my batteries.

     I need to escape to places like this small town because I lose alot of myself during the work week. Those darned bills never get paid in full, and my customers want everything yesterday. Sometimes I feel like the frenzied, and fractured businessman in Rod Serling's "A Stop at Willoughby." I want to jump off the speeding train in search of the sunlight and serenity. The boss screams, "push, push,push!!"

     My home life offers a different set of challenges because my neighbors mow their lawns every four days and seal their driveways with topcoat each summer. I see the nannys and cleaning ladies come and go, and trophy wives drive the deluxe minivans with electric sliding doors and dvd players. They always find time for the tanning salon, and pilates classes, while the men groom the lawn on a shiny new CubCadet. Some of them actually wax their lawn tractors! It's hard for me to compete. I can't help but wonder if these people have leveraged themselves to near bankruptcy in order to keep up appearances. Is it all a facade? Am I being lied to?

     Each night, in my sleep, I need to escape to those rural places where mangy farm dogs lick my face, and that wonderful, nourishing slurry wafts over the valley. I need to be "out there" as often as I can, where my truck can get muddied, and my clothes can be tattered. I'll always find Matt and Austin out there, donning their waders and grins.

     In last night's dream Matt hooked the bigger of the two rainbows on his spin rod with four pound test. He lost it under a fallen log. I reminded him that the colored water offers him the chance to use stronger line, but he had no patience for my advice. He mumbled, "That bleeping four pound!" He sat on the bank to re-tie. I slowly walked away knowing that he'd soon be of right mind. When I looked back, the dream had ended. My alarm sounded and I was off to work.

     A long time passed found me fishing for results, such as a bent rod, or a full stringer. These days I fish for the quality of the experience. It's for my friends, my waters, my skunk cabbage, and to watch those laughing people leaving the diner, or walking up the steps of an old batten-board church. Sometimes my dreams are as satisfying as the real thing. Fishing is one of the true, sacred pleasures in my life.

     I fish for the laughs, and for the cold coffee waiting back in the truck.

     I fish to cleanse my hands in the pure, ice-cold life's blood of my world.

     I fish because my churches exist near trout streams.

     I fish because I once witnessed Austin's first trip into the woods to take

    an outdoor crap.

     I fish to one day watch Matt return to NY and land a brute on four pound test.

     I fish, and I silently curse at convention, and conformity.

     I fish because there's no dress code, or tee time.

     I fish to admire the brutal honesty of a farmer tending to the fields that his

     father's father plowed with an oxbow and blade.

     In last night's dreamy, rural town we didn't see shiny cars, shiny tractors, or perfectly tanned, pampered people. The diner served a greasy, high calorie meal for cheap, and the customers asked us if the fish were biting down in the crick. They wished us luck as we paid the tab. I think that they really meant it.

     I'll dream about trout streams again tonight. Hopefully, Austin and Matt will join me. Austin will probably forget to bring an essential item, such as a reel. He did that alot. He used to call me throughout the winter to ask how the trout were staging for the April run. His anticipation overwhelmed him. I'm sure that he also dreamed of trout streams and fishing buddies.

     In my next dream I might ask him about the hereafter. I've meant to do that for some time. He'd probably smile and walk upstream, carrying that secret like the prized magic fly in his safely guarded box. I bet that I'd wake up before he answered. He would never answer that question. I suppose that his insight might doom me, because that answer only comes at the end.

     I need to be careful about what I ask for, which is a discipline that is hard for me to accept. I relentlessly search for truth and beauty while awake, or in dreams.

 I'll never stop searching, or asking life's unpleasant, but necessary questions. I seem to ask these questions most often when I am fishing, and when I am dreaming.

     One day I will recieve my answers. Until that day, I can be certain of two things: My trout streams have never lied to me, and my trout dreams are always beautiful.


For more info on fishing the Owasco Lake tributaries for trout and salmon, contact Row Jimmy Guide Service @ 607 239 7861

Moravia Middle School Stream Monitoring Project

7th Graders in Moravia Middle School worked with science teacher Mrs. Camp and Celeste Carmichael, State 4-H Specialist, to learn about watersheds and water quality. As a part of their project they photo documented their work and developed a message for the local community.


Water You Waiting For?

I just received an email about a short series of videos describing the the importance of water and job opportunities in the water industry.  Check it out.

“Water You Waiting For?” is a 12-minute video showcasing the water profession for high school and/or vocational technical school students.  This video highlights the water profession in four areas—the value of water, job responsibilities, career successes, and environmental contribution. The video is designed so that each of these chapters can either be viewed separately, appealing to that student’s curiosity, or can be viewed in it's entirety.

List of New York State Legislators

The following posting is the result of yesterday's discussion at APT, when participants suggested they wished to contact policy-makers about the use of hydro-fracting as a part of the gas well development process.


June 9 – Elmira, NY


Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand (202) 224-4451

Senator Charles E. 'Chuck' Schumer 212-486-4430



Assembly Member Thomas F. O'Mara - State Assembly. 607-732-3500

Senator George H. Winner - State Senate. (607) 732-2765


Download this file (state legislators formatted.pdf)State Legislators[ ]21 Kb
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Owasco Watershed Network & IGNITE - GET INFORMED!

Dear Friend,
The water from Owasco Lake is used for human consumption and irrigation. The city of Auburn, the town of Owasco, and lakefront property owners all draw water from the lake. In fact, more than 70% of Cayuga County's population obtain their drinking water from the lake.  IGNITE supports OWN's efforts in making our water a healthy source of consumption.  How long will Owasco Lake water be OK to drink? Here are the facts...

Did you know that there is only one full time inspector to cover the entire 208 square mile watershed of Owasco Lake? Put in simple terms that is like having:

·       one person to inspect the entire land area of the City of Auburn and expecting it to be done four times every month, year round, except there are more road miles (over 480 miles) in the watershed

·       one person walking from Auburn to Boston and then back to Albany

Did you know that the Auburn City Budget for 2011, if adopted as presented, eliminates the cooperative Water Testing Program between the City and the Owasco Watershed Lake Association (OWLA)? That is like:

·        removing the radar from a fleet of  aircraft

·        then hiring one maintenance inspector to keep the whole fleet safe

·        making plans to fly the fleet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

·        keeping forty-four thousand (44,000) people on the aircraft in the air at all times

Owasco lake is the drinking water for 44,000 people. The watershed is almost 20 times bigger than the lake itself. 

Did you know that the current inspection program was judged inadequate by the multi-jurisdictional committee overseeing the inspection program? Did you know the expanded program could be greatly improved if people drinking the water paid only pennies more?  

·        Raising the rate by 1.5 cents per 750 gallons would generate the additional funds ($30,000) required to add inspectors to cover the spring and fall when the majority of the run-off occurs.  

·        Customers now pay 1.68 for an amount equivalent to 750 gallons of water. Three cents of that amount ($.03) now is spent on inspection. Astonishingly, that is the amount again proposed in the 2011 budget.

Visit www.owascolake.org and find out more......It's your drinking water, you take it in, help us take it on. Get informed.

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