‘Brigadoon Creek’ is the latest book from local outdoor author Len Harris.
Published earlier this year, it’s Len’s second book. The title is an indirect reference to the play and movie of the same name. In the play, Brigadoon is a Scottish village, which appears for just one day every one hundred years. To see it, as the two Scottish hunters in the play do, is a once in a lifetime experience.
Harris was first made aware of the Brigadoon storyline when he saw the play produced by the North Crawford High School Playhouse. It was 1968 and Len was an impressionable 11 year old, but the idea of the mystical disappearing village intrigued him mightily and still does. Every Christmas Day, Harris watches the Brigadoon movie at home on DVD.
Naturally, the book is based on a short story called ‘Brigadoon Creek.’ It’s Len’s take on a story he overheard some old timers discussing as they dined at a table next to the Harris family at a New Glarus restaurant. The older white-haired men spoke in reverence of this magical trout stream of their youth.
After discussing the stream with the men, Harris decided he would attempt o find their Brigadoon Creek and fish it, all these many years later. The story speaks to his three-year quest to locate and fish that stream.
In the process, Harris learns what makes a Brigadoon Creek for some may not be another’s idea of a Brigadoon Creek. Specifically, Harris believes when he finally finds what he thinks is the stream, described by the men, that is filled with many, many trout. However, while plentiful in number, the fish are not that large.
A Brigadoon Creek to the author might contain fewer fish, but some very large fish. Large trout, very large trout on some rather small streams, is what intrigues Harris most.
The local fisherman often writes stories for local newspapers that describe catching brown trout 25-inches-or-better in length. Just as often, there are photos to accompany those stories.
In his epilogue on finding the old anglers’ Brigadoon Creek, Harris describes finding and fishing the place. He also describes the difference between fishermen.
“One angler’s Brigadoon Creek can be another angler’s Average Creek,” he writes. “I have always said, ‘I would trade 20 small trout for one big trout.’ I am still in search of my Brigadoon Creek…..I still have hope that I will find my stream of dreams before it disappears into the mist forever….We trout anglers are dreamers.”
That is the essence of Len’s book. The author believes in a mystical quality that exists everywhere, but particularly in the outdoors, which serves to connect all things in unique and often magical ways. Len is a dreamer and a believer.
“About three months ago, I made a comment to an acquaintance about trout fishing being so important to me and he dismissed it,” Harris writes at the end of his book. “He said trout fishing was the least important thing he does in life and I shouldn’t make it so important. I wholeheartedly disagree with him. Many people go to church to feel spiritual and be in touch with the universe. I go into the outdoors to cleanse my soul. All the things in life that bother me are melted away about a hundred yards from the truck. The fish are only a bonus in the whole scheme of things.”
While the Brigadoon Creek story supplies the material for the book’s title, it also supplies a thematic background for the other 23 stories included in the book. Make no mistake about it, trout fishing plays a big part in many of them. Harris recalls fishing near Gays Mills for the first time with his father…he also tells a story about a nine-year-old master fisherman he met…then there’s the Mennonite family he converts into trout fisherman and much more. However, not every story is based on trout fishing, some involve his life growing up in Gays Mills next to the Kickapoo River. Many speak to his friendships and relationships with people.
It’s so comfortable reading a local author, writing simple, but moving and interesting stories, about the real world around us.
“It’s written in campfire style,” Len said of his latest book, Brigadoon Creek. “You’re not left wondering what I meant. There are no $25 words.”
A couple dozen copies are available at the Independent-Scout office in the Gays Mills Mercantile Center, along with a few copies of Len’s earlier book ‘Stream of Time.’ The cost is $12 per copy.
The book can also be purchased online at Amazon.com or from two local bookstores, Ocooch Books and Libations in Richland Center or Arcadia Bookstore in Spring Green. Copies of the book are also available at the Gays Mills, Soldiers Grove and Richland Center libraries.