Bradley John Monsma’s “The Sepse Wild” ponders all of the good stuff about being outdoors — land, creatures and water — in such a way that you find yourself dreaming of exactly when you can adventure in his footsteps. In this book, written in 2004, he traces the history of what he terms “Southern California’s last free river,” an area north of Ojai and Fillmore that includes the 80-plus-square-mile Sespe Condor Sanctuary.
According to the Sespe Fly Fishers, the long drought has made the area unfishable for the past three seasons.
Here, Monsma remembers some of his thoughts during church in Los Angeles:
“In this place, in the company of people diverse in every way imaginable, in the heart of a city occasionally torn by natural disasters, police corruption and racial tension, I found myself thinking of salmon. Over and over, salmon would swim up the stream of my consciousness and spawn thoughts of themselves. I would will chinook smolts safely downstream through the turbines of hydroelectric dams. In the ocean, I would evade orcas, sea lions and fishermen.
“I would imagine the cold mountain headwaters calling us home, and with the rest I would strain against the current over fish ladders and waterfalls and through too-warm reservoirs infused with the chemicals of farms and factories. For years, I filled Sunday silences with prayers for fish. This was the closest thing to a spiritual discipline I’ve ever been able to maintain, other than walking or paddling.”
See you on the river, Jim Burns