Excerpt 2

2017

Three years ago, I stopped in a small bookstore in Berkley, CA to pick up a copy of Norman Maclean’s-A River Runs Through It. My youngest son, Moss had my copy with him at college in Lawrence, KS. Checking out while fumbling through my backpack for my wallet and debit card the clerk mentioned that it was the 40-year anniversary of its first publishing and there was a special foreword in the new edition by Robert Redford. I was sixteen forty years ago, and Moon was already deep into his fishing exploits in Alaska.

Fifteen years later, Moon was fly fishing in Montana sitting in his truck intensely studying road maps, spectacles joined in the middle by duct tape laying crooked on the bridge of his wide nose, determined to find places he could pull off and fish comfortably without being harassed by private landowners and no trespassing signs. Although the truth is, posted property has never detoured him because he believes every citizen has a fundamental right to the nation’s streams and rivers, every square inch. As he eased back onto the highway, he spotted a roadside diner and decided to stop in for a cheeseburger. When he went to pay, he noticed a small placard by the register that read- A River Runs Through It. Moon thought this referred to a place to fish.

So, he asked the waitress, “Which river?”

Of course, the waitress looked puzzled, so he tries again, “A river runs through, where?”

She chuckled, “Oh you haven’t heard about the movie?”

“No, what?”

“They’re making a movie and Robert Redford was just in here yesterday, in fact he sat right where you did.”

“Oh”, Moon mutters pulling out his map, “Could you tell me where this turnoff is?”

Norman MacLean was the son of a Presbyterian minister. I am the son of a fisherman. Norman’s dad required his sons to study the The Shorter Catechism, my dad required me to study absolutely nothing, but he did expect me to know how to fish. It’s ironic I’m a Presbyterian minister and I might add a fisherman.

As MacLean said, “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.”

For me, it happened backwards. I learned to fish behind greatness not knowing all the while I was learning how to be a minister. Real fishermen and real clergymen both share the necessity of faith and the undying pursuit of beauty. This story is about my dad, an incredible fisherman who acknowledges his unquenchable quest for the next fish was his attempt to reconcile the untimely death of his dad, my granddad. Unresolved pain drives many of us in ways we are unaware. I inherited the joys and sorrows of this pain like my children will from me. The sorrows have been my greatest teachers and the joys have brushed eternity. So, this fishing story is also about life. Just like Moon always says about fishing lures, “Some are designed to catch fish, others are designed to catch men.”

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When I first penned Moon and Sunn I included a truck load of chapter endnotes. I felt I needed to verify just about every historical detail of the entire book! After endless research editor Bobby Ha