Last fall, during a steelhead float with Dr. Kevin, one of my out-of-town clients, the conversation turned to writing and specifically, outdoor writing. Kevin, whose neurological medicine-based book will be published internationally early in 2011, enjoys sporting literature, as do I. When Kevin learned I hadn’t read Ted Leeson’s 1994 book, The Habits of Rivers, he told me I would soon find a copy in my mailbox. Sure enough, within days, there it was: a gift from Kevin, which I appreciated at the time, but which now that I have read the book, a kindness I appreciate even more. Leeson’s insights into life, our passion for fly fishing, and the mysteries of the appeal of flowing water and the trout that inhabit it resonate—evoking memories of experiences, sensations, and thoughts we’ve had ourselves. Gracing it all is Leeson’s exceptional command of language and turn-of-phrase:
“The fishing here is invariably superb; always, it’s the catching that’s up for grabs.” [and]
“You fish, in essence, for surprise out of nowhere, for an instant in which you suddenly become aware that you’re attached to a heartbeat.” [and]
“At the instant of the [dry fly] take, the boundary of the surface is shattered. Hidden things are disclosed. We have tempted a separate world to reveal itself to us, to our eyes and imaginations.”
Glen Blackwood, owner of Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company in Rockford, Michigan, is an acknowledged authority and seller of outdoor books, old and new. Glen knows Leeson’s works well, and recently told me that he has had only two books returned to his business—one of them The Habit of Rivers. “Couldn’t understand a word of it,” said the buyer.
I can understand how the book may not charm every reader, but for most, I suspect it will become a favorite—a book that satisfies and a book to which one may return for new pleasures, time after time. Glen has the book; he loves it, and so do I. Maybe you will, too.
Captain Tom Kuieck