I grew up in the Seattle area, but I like to think I was raised on the Puget Sound. My earliest memories in life are of being dragged to the car before the sun came up so that we could be on the water by the time the fish were biting. I used to wonder why they would get up so early just to get caught. I would have at least slept in on my last day.
My dad, sometimes my mother, my older brother, and I spent many a morning in a small rowboat fishing for the salmon that streamed through the sound on their way up the Duwamish River. I knew both my grandfather’s and grandmother’s ÷and now my father’s and mother’s ÷ ashes had been spread here, so at times this place had an almost mystical presence to me. This was always my spiritual home, even if it wasn’t always my physical home.
My dad had been raised by the Puget Sound and often ended up feeding his family with the fish that he caught. We had more money, but salmon were still an important part of our diet. We always had a freezer full of them, and we had canned salmon, not tuna fish, on our sandwiches. When we ran out of money at the end of the month, we could always count on having salmon.
When we weren’t salmon fishing, we were off stream fishing in some of the best trout fishing streams in the world. "That’s" how I was introduced to the woods of the Northwest that I now walk with the same intensity that my father used to fish.
With this background, Henry Thoreau’s Walden did not come so much as a revelation to me, but, rather, as a mere revealing of much of what I had felt my whole life. As Thoreau said, "The" wildest scenes had become unaccountably familiar. I found in myself, and still find, an instinct toward a higher, or, as it is named, spiritual life, as do most men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage one, and I reverence them both. I love the wild not less than the "good"
Even as a freshman in college I sensed that Thoreau was right when he said, "Why" should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away"
Little did I know how hard it would be to keep step with that distant drum.