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I caught my first trout in Wallowa Lake, Oregon, when I was nine years old. I was staying with my Aunt and Uncle, Alice and Fred Niemi, who had rented a cabin on the western, wooded shore of the lake. The lake itself is four miles long and almost a mile wide, and it sits below the Eagle Cap Wilderness and the Wallowa Range in a huge bowl ground out by some massive antediluvian glacier when the world was fresh. Six miles below the lake is the little town of Joseph, Oregon. If you travel down the valley, through the Wallowa River Canyon and turn up over the Blue Mountains at Elgin, Oregon, in about an hour you come down into the Walla Walla Valley and the town of Walla Walla, where I grew up. My aunt and uncle loved that rental cabin so much the next summer they bought their own cabin at the head of the lake. They owned it for thirty-five years. So for me, the towns of Walla Walla and Joseph were the towns I grew up in. My house was in Walla Walla, but I came to life in the mountains around Joseph.

From the window of that rented cabin you could see across the water to the glacial moraine, the ridge that bounds the eastern shore of the lake, its slope unadorned by any trees but alive with the vivid rainbow colors of spring wildflowers. The sun rose from that side in glory, seeking its measured path above the lake to the ridges of Chief Joseph Mountain rising behind the cabin, going up forever into the pristine blue sky, a blue often obscured by the massive thunderheads that rolled in unannounced.

The morning after we arrived, Uncle Fred woke me up about 5:00 a.m. and told me to get dressed. We had a quick breakfast and then went down to the dock below the cabin and climbed into a small open motorboat. Uncle Fred’s friend, Clyde, was waiting with several rods rigged up for trolling. We headed out onto the lake and dropped the lines. I remember it being a cool day, a little overcast. I held my rod, not knowing what to expect. After about fifteen minutes of slowly motoring down the lake, I saw the tip of my pole jerk. Down, up, down, up…

“You got one,” my uncle laughed.

“A fish?”

“Yep, a fish. Reel him in.”

And so began a lifelong activity that I have never ever tired of—cranking the handle of a fishing reel, be it fly or bait, to drag a feisty, fighting, rainbow trout out of the depths and into the sunlight. There is nothing like it.

But now I am old, and that day was long ago, and over the years since then I have watched the wilderness change. No longer are the mountains a cathedral and we have forgotten the liturgy. It should not be like this.

So, as a memorial, I wrote my latest book about growing up in the wilderness. It’s a book about fishing, about hiking, about the mountains—but in the end it turned out to be a book about a young boy and the uncle who showed him the way…

It was an interesting write because it’s creative non-fiction. I took memories as they bobbed to the surface turned them into stories—stories that may or may not be in chronological order, stories that catch a glimpse of forgotten moments, stories that take you back to a time when you could sit on the shore of a lake fishing away the day, and except for the sound of a small motorboat trolling its way down the far side, you could rest in the stillness. But what stillness: the gentle lapping of the waves finding their way down sunlight sparkling diamond paths to the rocky shore, the cry of an Osprey circling far above, raptor eyes spying out the hidden paths of the fish in the cool green depths—paths that I only guessed at, the wind moving through the tops of the pine trees with a sound unlike any other I know.

Or the days of hiking beside a rushing mountain stream, the water pouring down from some unseen glacial snowpack, the eddies and pools alive with pink-sided Rainbows or golden Brookies. Dropping a fly into a small still place under a brushy bank or letting a single egg with a tiny shot weight drift down through the rapids into the flat below and feeling the jerk as the big boy hiding behind the rock gets lured out by the siren call of a Pautzke’s Golden Nugget.

Those were the days, fleeting, but foundational to what I am and have become. They won’t return, yet in my heart and mind and memories they have a life of their own and will remain, warming my reflections until that day when at last I say goodbye to the river.

Patrick E. Craig

Say Goodbye To The River

By Patrick E. Craig

With this book, Craig takes us into deep green forests, beside fast silver waters where trout rise, on long hikes over hills flamed by autumn and along slopes of tall, sharp mountains. He takes us into his youth. Everything in the Pacific Northwest of another century comes to life––the people, the animals that make their way along wide or narrow trails, a thriving wilderness of woods and brush and alpine flower. Even the trucks, cabins, fishing gear and rutted roads of a long-gone era fill our imaginations as Craig’s rich and evocative writing takes hold. His thoughts, his contemplations and his regrets weave seamlessly in and out of a golden time when the sun shone bright, the rain fell true and the seasons rolled over the shoulders of a young man bursting into life like the leaves on a spring poplar. Think Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It, Ernest Hemingway’s Big Two-Hearted River, Faulkner’s The Bear and Sigurd Olson’s The Singing Wilderness. Nature writing and the writing of the heart at its very best.

Murray Pura author of Majestic and Wild (Baker), The Zoya Septet (MillerWords), A Road Called Love (HarperCollins)

Where can readers purchase my books?

http://tinyurl.com/n6sfagg Amazon

https://books2read.com/rl/Applecreekdreams Apple, Nook, Kobo — Apple Creek Dreams

https://books2read.com/rl/theparadisechronicles Apple, Nook, Kobo — The Paradise Chronicles

https://www.patrickecraig.com/book-table/  My Website

About the Author:

Amazon Best-Selling author Patrick E. Craig, is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful music career to become a pastor in 1986. In 2007 he retired to concentrate on writing and publishing fiction books. In 2011, Patrick signed a three-book deal with Harvest House Publishers to publish his Apple Creek Dreams series. His self-published books, The Amish Heiress, The Amish Princess, and The Mennonite Queen, as well as the reprinted Apple Creek Dreams are now published by Patrick’s imprint, P&J Publishing. In 2017, Harlequin Publishing purchased The Amish Heiress for their Walmart Amish series and released it in April 2019.

Patrick and co-author Murray Pura recently released Far On The Ringing Plains, Book 1 in a nine book series that will take in the whole sweep of men and women at war from WW II to the current Desert Campaigns. The have also collaborated on an anthology of realistic Amish stories written with the four other men who write Amish fiction: Willard Carpenter, Jerry Eicher, Thomas Nye and Amos Wyse. The Amish Menorah and Other Stories was published by Elk Lake Publishing in May of 2020. The six authors are currently collaborating on A Christmas Collection which will be released in November. Patrick has also recently released two books in his YA mystery series, The Adventures of Punkin and Boo, with Elk Lake Publishing. They are The Mystery of Ghost Dancer Ranch and The Lost Coast. Patrick and his wife Judy live in Idaho. They have two daughters and five grandchildren.

Where can readers find Patrick online? Webpage Facebook Twitter Instagram