An­gling for an­swers to big ques­tions

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Stella Clarke

SAus­tralia-based nat­u­ral­ist and keen an­gler Tony Tay­lor re­turns to a wilder­ness of great beauty, more than 40 years later, like a sock­eye salmon to its point of ori­gin. He jour­neys from Syd­ney to Bri­tish Columbia to re-im­merse him­self in the in­spir­ing sur­rounds of the fish-crammed Cowichan River.

As once be­fore, he rents a re­mote log cabin. Tay­lor’s book cap­ti­vates in the man­ner of all en­rap­tured plunges into the bo­som of wildest na­ture, from the work of 19-cen­tury na­ture-lover Henry Thoreau to Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leop­ard; from Robert Hughes’s A Jerk on One End to heroic, sur­vival­ist per­form­ers such as Bear Grylls (and if you think Bear is awe­some, wait un­til you meet Tay­lor’s fish­ing mate, Big Arthur).

Rel­ish­ing his soli­tude, Tay­lor seeks out so­lu­tions to prob­lems per­sonal and sci­en­tific. He is on a mis­sion to meet, for the first time, his eight-year-old grand­son, Ned. He looks for­ward to this with edgi­ness, hu­mil­ity and hope. There is a lot on his mind. Hav­ing missed out on be­ing a tip-top fa­ther to his own son, he looks for­ward to a sec­ond chance.

He wants to pass on not only pent-up af­fec­tion but also the ben­e­fits of his ex­pe­ri­ence. Go­ing fish­ing to­gether, he de­cides, will be a good start.

Tay­lor is also fish­ing for an­swers to one par­tic­u­lar very big ques­tion: why is Australia so bar­ren, while Canada and the US are so fer­tile? Sur­pris­ingly, there are no ob­vi­ous an­swers to this co­nun­drum, since the great gran­ite batholiths un­der­ly­ing each land are al­most iden­ti­cal. Bathos, Tay­lor tells us, means deep-seated, and lithos means stone.

So, even if the matey joys of an­gling elude you, if ‘‘ get­ting your fly down’’ and PAWN­ING a first book at the age of 80 is ex­tra­or­di­nary, but so are the breed­ing habits of fish. In Fish­ing the River of Time,

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.