A Weight in the Air

The Olympic Peninsula in Spring

My brother had just popped the question to his long-time girlfriend and I had just uprooted from California to the East Coast. It seemed about as good a time as any to go steelheading. I made excuses. Plans were made. I packed the truck and told my brother to bring his dog Kenai. I packed one rod and grabbed the Hasselblad. The aging film camera sits heavy in the hand and is only capable of 12 frames per roll. It makes you think before you pull the trigger.

In our technologically advanced age, it’s easy to slip into the vortex of everyday life. That’s why I love Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula.  There’s something about the place. It’s the color of the water, the smell of the forest, the ridges that fall from distant peaks. It’s the rivers that spin out of the mountains and the fish that come home to them after years spent exploring the North Pacific. It’s the fraying at the seams that comes with life at the edge of the continent—the trailer parks, lumber trucks and clear-cuts. There’s a weight in the air.

My brother picked me up in Port Angeles on a day that felt like summer. It was April and the lack of rain meant the rivers would be in good shape. We shoved a few bags of groceries and a few more cases of Rainier into the back of the truck. Kenai waited patiently, then stuck her head out of the window as we drove west toward rivers whose names we’d dreamt of and repeated as if part of a spell, as if by saying them we could appear there…

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