Angling for answers to big questions
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,