TOWNSHEND -- On Wednesday, Oct. 16, Leland & Gray's English 11-2 class visited the Townshend Dam for the first of several fly-fishing lessons.
The lessons were inspired by Norman Maclean's famous memoir, "A River Runs Through It," which renders the art of fly-fishing into a powerful metaphor for human nature. As students read Maclean's book and work through its complex devices on paper, they will take on the equally difficult task of casting a fly-rod and thinking like a fisherman.
Tom Russell, a Leland & Gray P.E. instructor, is teaching the lessons as a compliment to his Adventure Learning course. An experienced fly-fisherman, he has as much practical information to share with the students as he has stories of fishing the famous trout rivers of Montana.
Russell stresses the importance of persistence in practicing the fly-casting method. His words are an echo of what the students have already read.
In the first pages of his book, Maclean recalls his father, a minister, who taught him how to fly-fish: "My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe," he writes, "To him, all good things -- trout as well as eternal salvation -- come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy."
These Leland and Gray students are quickly learning the same lesson. As they try again and again to master the art of casting over the water, they realize their approach must achieve a balance between poise and power in order to draw in the fish.
The fly-fishing lessons will continue into next week, encouraging these Leland and Gray students to analyze, not only the text for their English class, but the value of fly-fishing as an allegory for life.