Delta Dance

"Of fast running rivers

Of choice and chance.

And time stops here

on the delta

While they dance, while they dance."


Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Dateline: Delta Morn

Between sunrise, and sunset, lies glory.

And the anglers wait.

Floating in the morning fog, tiny droplets of the dawn swarm their body, coat the brims of their hats, run down the windshields of their boats, seep through their clothes searching for their soul.

From down the San Joaquin Valley comes the breeze. It smells of agriculture, it smells of garlic, it smells of cotton, it smells of raisins, wine, dust, and the produce aisle of your supermarket.

And the anglers wait.

The night struts up from the dark water, and as it rises past their ankles, past their knees, past their waist, it whispers ...

"... go home ... "

Then the California night, hovers for an instant right behind their ears ... and laughs. A faint chuckle mixed with the songs of the morning birds.

And the anglers wait.

And their boats float on the new waves of the day.

And they bob up and down,

Right and left.

They bob.

And the anglers wait.

The night stretches wide open to reveal the Sierra's far to their right, the Pacific Ocean far to their left.

And from whence they came, comes the sun.

And the droplets run away.

And the birds go silent.

And the sunglasses come out.

And the water under the boat explodes.

Because, between sunrise,

Because, between sunset.

Lies glory.

And the anglers will wait no more.

Now Sunrise

With the sunrise comes the new.

Comes dreams.

Comes hope.

Comes the future. Clean slate living every 24 hours. Sunrise never looks back.

No sunrise, no today. No tomorrow. No sunrise, no us.

My favorite part of the sunrise, is the sound. The sound of sunrise.

Coffee sipping in the service yard, the squeak of trailer doors being opened up, people sniffing, rubbing their hands together, coat buttons snapping closed, the music of footsteps never sound as good as they do with the morning crunch of gravel.

The lyrics of the launch.

Wet tires on grooved payment screaming for a handhold. The winding of cranks, the opening of latches, the whoosh of the lake as it escapes the boat trailer and heads back home.

And the sound of thinking. The symphony of thought, when you just go up to an angler on his boat and say NOTHING.

He replies NOTHING.

And yet, it's a conversation you both understand.

Unspoken rides the sunrise. The sound I cherish the most of the morning. The sound of the chase. The sound. Within.

The sound of not NOW, but NEXT.

You play for next.

You think for next.

You live for next.

And as the sunrise fades, comes the day.

Comes the noise, gone the music.

Leaves the lyrics, comes the shouts.

Comes the talk, goes the silence.

Have you ever lived in the sunrise?

Have you ever lived in the sunset?

Will you ever catch the sun?

Will you ever stop, and watch the show?

Watch the show.

The Show

The Delta fears us not.

The Sierras don't know we are here.

The Pacific wants its land back.

To them, we are the guests.

The audience, for their show.

It is their stage, we just get to play on it.

"When I first go out there in the Delta, and watch it come alive, it scares the crap out of me. Terrifies me," Dean Rojas said in the Hilton, eyes searching for a window and the Delta beyond.

"There is a moment when it just overtakes you, just flows over and through your whole body, and you know it's me ... against ... this ... thing ... the ... Delta."

When you read that quote, you need to know, he said it one word at a time there at the end. And you need to know, his answer, came between the words.

I asked him, exactly this: "What goes through your mind, when you face the new? How do you get to ... strategy?"

And I shocked him when I said, "I don't care about your particular strategy, I want to know, how do you face ... new?"

What do you do when you open up the textbook, and there is nothing there? When there is nothing to follow? No path. No footsteps.

When the GPS is you.

And Dean Rojas just smiled.

Give adventure

I'm scrunching forward to try and hear a voice that flows backwards down his throat, "I like new ... "

I scoot my chair closer, " ... new has no history."

It's as if the introspection won't give up its grasp of the words. Rick Clunn's words.

"Out there is where I escape humanity."

I know he is speaking of the Delta, but I know, he could just as easily be speaking of out there, where it's new.

New is lonely

"It is so alive, it out shouts the humanity."

Humanity is lost on humans. Nature brings us back. Brings us together.

Again, Rick: "I don't remember a lot of what my father told me, but I remember every fishing trip he ever took me on."

Nature steps in when humans can't.

"When my girls were growing up I told them I was going to stop giving the Christmas presents, that instead of materialistic items, I was going to give them something different. I was going to give them ... Adventure."

I wrote down, Adventure, when Rick said that, but ...

"I wanted to give them ... "

... but Rick also gave them ...

" ... something they would always remember."

... also gave them humanity.

And Rick Clunn just smiled.

California Gold

"I still get Goosebumps, wanna see?"

But Kelly Jordon raises his jersey shirt sleeve anyway.

And there would be goosebumps.

"You think I'm kidding, go ahead, touch them."


"It was the most intense double rainbow I have ever seen. A rain front was coming off the Pacific , and it ran straight into the Sierra's and then off to the side, like right here ... ."

Kelly has his left hand up on the Hilton wall at about 11 o'clock, and his right hand is first at two o'clock.

"No ... actually down more like here!" at which his right hand moves to the three o'clock position.

"So over here (his left hand on the wall) you have the rain, and right here (he sort of head butts the wall) you have the mountain, and over here (his right hand at about 2:30 o'clock position) you have this clearing, blue skies and then this double rainbow appears."

His hands just stay that way. On the wall. As he watches the sunset. And, for some reason I stand there and watch the sunrise, too.

As his right hand sets in the west, he turns to me and says, "db ... it was Golden, a Golden Moment I will never forget in my life."

And Kelly Jordon just smiled.

Now sunset

The darkness creeps.

From whence we came.

Across mid-town.

Across the Mississippi.

Across the plains.

Slinks up the Rockies.

And comes for us.

Comes to end the new. Wants the new back.

And the sun hides.

And the anglers wait.

And new waits.

And the Delta, just smiles.

— db

Don Barone is an award-winning outdoors writer and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Guild of the U.K. You can reach db at