Sunday, January 10, 2010

Soapstone - 10 JAN 2010

All the men of Nehalem were fly fishing today.  I happened upon them on my way to Umbrella Falls.

My Soapstone information packet is full of all kinds of useful tips -- everything from where the compost goes to how to start a fire in a wood stove to where to find a dictionary if you need one.  It also has suggested walks and hikes in the immediate area and beyond.  One of the listings was for something called Umbrella Falls, just a mile or so down the road, near the Fish Hatchery.  It looked like the perfect walkabout for today.

I quickly ate my breakfast and drank my coffee and read my pages from "Steering the Craft" -- which today were all about Point of View and Narrative Voice.  LeGuin gives some excellent examples on this sometimes challenging subject, her own and also bits from Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," Dickens' "Bleak House," and Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings."

It was a timely subject for my walk.  I'm messing about with Point of View in both of the plays I'm working on, and it was good to hear her thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of each variation.  "The Year I Don't Remember" is in Limited Third Person with an Unreliable Narrator.  (As in the film "Memento," the character is aware of her own unreliability, and wrestling with it.  I am beginning to believe that "Magellanica" is in serial Limited Third Person, or maybe Omnicient...  I have a crazy, international bunch of characters, and I think they're all going to end up weighing in on what's happening before I'm done.

You may be thinking, "I didn't think playwrights got to *have* Point of View and Narrative Voice."  But we do.  Sometimes our plays are what we think of as "traditional," where things happen up there on stage and we peek in at them through the invisible "fourth wall" of the room.  My plays "Infinite Black Suitcase" and "Heads" were like this.  But older plays and newer plays often have characters commenting on the action as it unfolds.  The Greeks had their chorus, Shakespeare had his soliloquies, and nowadays, all manner of people talk to the audience from the stage, or even climb down amongst the innocent audience members to give them a poke and a prod.  Nothing is safe anymore!  (Durst I say good theater shouldn't be?)

Well, I've gotten off track.  Back to all the men of Nehalem.

I took off on my walk, wearing the bright orange vest that Soapstone thoughtfully provides, so I wouldn't get run over.  (There's not a lot of edge to the road around here, and I don't want to be like poor Stephen King, hit by a car while innocently walking along.)

A few cars passed by, going fast along the highway and probably wondering what the heck I was doing out on the side of the road.  There aren't a lot of walkers along this stretch.  I tried to look un-distressed, so nobody would feel like they needed to stop, and shot some pictures as I walked along.

When I walked across the bridge over the Nehalem River, I was surprised to see a bunch of fly-fishermen down below, up to their thighs in the chilly winter waters.  When I reached the Fish Hatchery, the parking lot was full of pick-ups.  There were men pulling on their boots and jackets, men arranging their gear, and men tail-gating!  Yes, they were tail-gating, right there in the parking lot of the Fish Hatchery, little hibachis burning cozily while the fellas turned plump hot dogs over with their fingers.  A white-haired angler was sitting in a lawn chair in the bed of his pick-up, holding court.  It was all very convivial.  Who knew that on a sunny Sunday in Nehalem, this is what I'd find?

I walked down to the Hatchery, and watched the little fish leap and scurry around in their ponds.  Then I set out for Umbrella Falls.

Now, it's not a *long* walk.  You can practically see the falls from the Hatchery.  But it's beautiful.  The water cascades down over a big black rock, and underneath it were a whole bunch more fly fishermen.  I took a picture of the falls, trying not to be too conspicuous (with my girlness, in this clearly masculine domain, and in my bright orange vest).

Then I meandered along the meandering path along the river.  I passed more fishermen.  And more.  Maybe forty or fifty guys!  The river (and path) bends around such that when you come out on the other side, you're back at the Hatchery where you started.  They have a special platform there for elderly, disabled and young anglers, and it was full of guys too.

Timing is everything.  Just as I arrived at the platform, one of the fellas was bringing in a fish.  It was a beauty -- maybe two feet long.  It wriggled in the air as he reeled it in.  He bonked the fish on the head (which appeared to be standard procedure), then kindly let me take a picture of it.  He said it was really good fishing out there today.

I walked back, contemplating narrative voice and serendipity and the peaceful happiness of fly fishermen.  Then I hauled some wood, ate some crab legs, fed my fire and settled in to write for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

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