Can't Beat This - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Can’t Beat This

The late U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sean Hamilton fly-fishing. Photo used under a Creative Commons license of flickr user USFWS.

One of my favorite bike rides in Garrett County, Md. follows Rock Lodge Rd, bordering Deep Creek Lake to an ascent aside Cherry Creek, rhododendron-thick banks and forests, then past valleys and farmland back to Mosser Road. Near the intersection of Rock Lodge Rd. and State Park Rd., I pass a tall green steel tank, adjacent to Cherry Creek. The tank is a Boxholm doser, just one piece of a project begun in 1973, sponsored by the State of Maryland, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Office of Surface Mining and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The doser injects lime into Cherry Creek to reduce its acidity, caused, in part, by acid drainage from the region’s former coalmines. These efforts, backed by scientists from the University of Maryland’s Appalachian Labs in nearby Frostburg, have dramatically improved the habitat for fish and those who enjoy fishing. For more information:

Can’t Beat This

“I wouldn’t leave this place,

not for all the money in China,”

spits the fisherman,

deftly lofting a nymph into the riffle

on the stream,

the stream

once ruined by acid,

Saved by science,


“Can’t beat this,”

says the trail biker,

cresting a hill,

payback for his work,

a breezy decline,

between the pines

down to the stream,

ruined by acid,

Saved by science,


At the tavern,

the biker buys

the first round.

The fisherman

brags on his trout,

the trout,

he tossed back into the stream,

the trout,

once killed by acid,

Saved by science.


“We need more coal jobs hereabouts,”

says the fisherman,

buying a second round,

The fisherman

who once sat by the river

for three hours

watching the flies,

thinking like a fly,


the Scientific method.


“Climate change?

Global warming?

I ain’t buying that bullshit,”

says The fisherman,

“Any more then I’m buying

a shot of that

single malt

on the top shelf.”


“It’s all rich man’s,

Liberal propaganda,”

says the fisherman,

the fisherman,

still bragging on the trout,

the trout

he threw back in the stream,

the stream, once

killed by acid,




About the author

Len Shindel

Len Shindel began working at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point Plant in 1973, where he was a union activist and elected representative in local unions of the United Steelworkers, frequently publishing newsletters about issues confronting his co-workers. His nonfiction and poetry have been published in the “Other Voices” section of the Baltimore Evening Sun, The Pearl, The Mill Hunk Herald, Pig Iron, Labor Notes and other publications. After leaving Sparrows Point in 2002, Shindel, a father of three and grandfather of seven, began working as a communication specialist for an international union based in Washington, D.C. The International Labor Communications Association frequently rewarded his writing. He retired in 2016. Today he and his wife, Maxine, live in Garrett County where he enjoys writing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, hiking, fly-fishing and fighting for a more peaceful, sustainable and safe world for his grandchildren and their generation Contact the author.

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