As I rode into town from the airport with others attending a conference in Boise, Idaho a month ago, we passed several shops catering to fly-fishing enthusiasts.
One of my companions expressed a wish that he was actually on a fly-fishing trip.
Later, I saw an advertisement for a “Fly-Fishing Film Tour” being shown at one of the local theatres.
Alas, before long it was the usual environmental conference experience of spending 90 per cent of the time indoors talking about our outdoor research.
The symposium I was invited to present in was called “Water in the West: Implications for Weed Management” and many of the speakers talked about rivers.
A speaker from Phoenix, Arizona spoke of the hard-working Colorado River, which gets milked for all its worth, not even reaching the ocean anymore, dwindling to a trickle far from the sea.
Another speaker discussed the insatiable human thirst for water in Idaho.
In fact, I learned why Idaho is so good for growing potatoes – it’s because it barely rains there.
In regions with a lot of rainfall, potatoes are vulnerable to diseases, but a complex network of canals and reservoirs enable Idaho potato farmers to irrigate their crop with just the right amount of water.
As the conference wrapped up Thursday morning, most attendees departed without having actually seen much of the Boise area.
I had decided to stay a bit longer, and during the next two days I reveled in the river.
The Boise River greenbelt includes 25 miles of trails along the river, where indeed fly-fishermen can be spotted and many others enjoy this respite from the bustling city of Boise.
As the river became the centre of my existence for a few days, it amazed me how one could be enjoying a beautiful natural landscape within a few paces of the city.
The 1992 movie “A River Runs Through It” tells the story of two brothers growing up in Missoula, Montana, which is not far from Boise.
Norman Maclean, who penned the book by the same title, grew up fly-fishing with his brother, Paul. He wrote the book after a career as an academic in Chicago.
Their father was a Presbyterian minister, and as Maclean writes: “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.”
Certainly for me, wandering the banks of the Boise River for several days was a pilgrimage of praise.
As Maclean waxes eloquent: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
– David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University