Is “Trout Heaven” a fun title, or what? Hope so.

51FfoENi-8L (2)

I had a new cover drawn up for my third novel, Trout Heaven, to better illustrate the money with the trout. This is a bizarre business story, a steadily growing love story and, most intriguing, a terrific murder mystery, I hope!

* ‘Late’ – just a little mid-summer essay


by S.M. BerberichMagicicada_fg08-001

I’m floating. Shouldn’t be.

I can still breathe though. That’s good.

How long can I stay on my back like this?

Who am I? Well, I can hardly remember.

God, please keep my delicate wings whole. Will they ever dry out? Wings, oh, yes, wings!  I can’t feel them anymore.

How long has it been, anyway? I can’t remember how I got here.

Uh oh, I feel fish. They’re under, now around me. Minnows, please no big ones, I hope, I hope, I hope. God, if I get eaten, please make it quick, one with a big mouth, no teeth please.

I’m so tired. I can’t focus; water keeps slapping on my eyes.

There, I can still make out the angle of the Sun, though. Now I know I’m late. If I don’t get out of here, they will have all left for the next world without me—my brood.  I loved my brood.

But no, I’m not done yet. Got to keep hope alive.

My brood … I bet they sang all night in our tree top. We had so much fun. Guys and gals singing in harmony. It’s an opera, I tell ya. A real opera.  And, oh the love making. She loved my song and how I sang away and pushed off weaker guys for her love. I wonder if she found good twigs for our young.

Those were the days. The crazy days of summer, huh?  But, where’s my brood now? I messed up before the opera closed. It’s not fair. I missed the concertato.

I think I know what happened to me, now that I have time. Hmm … I guess I got too happy in all those  sweet cherry tree leaves and fell onto that boat parked next to the house with the cherry tree.

Boat? Oh yea, the boat.  Musta fallen on it, and now. Now? Oh, if I could only see better. Where’s the shore? What river is this? If only I could hear my brood again. Just one song guys and I’d feel better. Who am I kidding? I’m virtually dead; never get out of this soup.

What’s that?

No, please don’t hit me with that!

It’s a human with a big white weapon, a club.  I’m dead; I’m dead now for sure.

It’s under me, the white … oh, that’s better. Must not be a club. Hmm … feels smooth. Yea plastic. I’m on it now. The human’s lifting me up with that white stick into the air.

Air, oh lovely air. I’m up, but the white stick is slippery. Oops, sliding off. No, no, I can’t go back down there. Might not land on my back next time. I’ll drown. No, not me. I’m holding on. Ugh, can’t straighten; can’t flutter here; too risky. Might slip off.

No, no, no; I AM falling now.


The human just put me down with that big white stick; not back in the water. And, I’m not on plastic now either. It’s, oh it’s grabbier surface. I can grip. I can feel around. Yes, I think it’s what they call fiberglass—a little better for my feet pins to latch on to. Feels like the surface of that boat under the cherry tree that got me in this splashy mess. This surface is blue too; good sign for the likes of my sort, for sure.

I can see him now, the human.  He is sitting in the blue log. Weird. He’s staring right at me, looking close now. Some humans eat us. Please, no. Maybe he has no teeth. That might be acceptable. I’m close to the end anyway. Just let me dry out, dear God, before he eats me. I want to feel free again, if only for a moment.

Now the human seems to be leaving me alone, seems preoccupied. There, he’s twirling the white stick back and forth. We are turning. Yes! We turned into the afternoon sun. Warmth,  ahhh.

I’ll try to stretch. Yea, why don’t ya, I say to myself. Shut up, I say to myself. So far so good, he might hear me. I have no songs left in me for him or anyone.  No, he’s not watching my pathetic efforts. Can’t stretch yet. Ouch, that hurts. Be patient, dry out to stretch right.

I can see for sure now that the afternoon sun is way too low in the southern arch.  I’m terribly late. I’ve disappointed my entire brood.

I guess I’ve got to think of myself for once. We don’t think as individuals, though; don’t know how. We are social, you know. Social and sociable. That’s what we are. This maverick thinking will be different, scary.

Well, what to do? Dry out? Sit still? Stare down Mr. Human? Try to stretch? Don’t know.

If I could juuust push up with my right legs first, I’d … Yes, I’m upright now, good, right legs and the fabulously famous segmented abdomen, which makes us so adorable, are level. Good start.

No feeling yet in left middle leg. Got to push up. Can’t. No, I can’t move my wings yet; they are stuck. Glued to my gorgeous shiny green sides, probably both sets of wings are stuck.

There, there Mr. Human, right: more sun, more warmth, please. Ah yes, go west, young man. See, we do know some of your adolescent, silly human culture. We’ve watched you around here, you know, doing what you do—burn and slash, pave and poison.  Such fools, you are.

No, no, no. He’s looking.

I didn’t mean you, sir. No sirree. You sir, are the Good  Samaritan,  Mr. Human. Get me dried out and off this fiberglass log thing, sir … please?  Yeah, Good Samaritan, you are, sir. See that, more human stuff we know about.  Yeah, we see you folks each time we come back, destroying more and more Nature. You’ve put more stress on our broods than the Pleistocene Era did with those glaciers. Brrr. Couldn’t find our way through those ice bricks.

Please sir, don’t be mad.

God, did he hear me?

Didn’t  mean it, sir. Please don’t turn us around again. I like the sun. Besides, my wings can move. Thank you, Mr. Human. I was just kidding about your kind. Yours is a fine … fine species.

Just a bit more and I can fly, please, more sun, sir.

Oh, the forest. I can see clearly now, eyes dry. Bet my eyes are all bloodshot, right Mr. Human? Excuse my little joke, okay? My eyes are always blood red.

I feel the evening breeze near shore. Nice. Oh, cooler now. I think I can flutter. Umph. Damn back on my side. Just half my wings flutter, not all. No, I’m not going to make it this way. Got to try harder.

Wood, wood, there’s wood, lots of it. A platform. If I could only just flutter and fly, flap, flap, flap. No, not even yet.

Slipping sideways now. Wasn’t a good idea at all. I … Whoa, I’m slipping fast … I’m … Oh no, here I go again.


Bubbly Bub, bub, bub; underwater.

I’m dead for sure now.

No, floating up and up.


The blue fiberglass log is directly on top of me. What are the odds?

There’s the white stick moving in the water on one side, now another under water too.

Can’t breathe. I know, I’ll just slither, slither, and slip along the bottom of the log, and then, yes!

Air, precious air. Surface again. And, there! I still see the wood platform.

But, I am upside down again, wings wet, red eyes cloudy. Helpless.

I see Mr. Human with the white stick poking at me. Does he want to eat me now?


Well, that came out simply as another one our pathetic motor-mouth songs, a bad one at that. He still has no idea how I feel.

Ah, but he does handle that stick well.

I’m on! Slipping around on the while plastic stick again.

Balance, boy, balance. Get balanced, I say. But then, whoops …

He’s slung me into the air.


I have landed feet first on the platform.

Ah yes, I like wood, my favorite grab-on-surface. If only it was the sweet wood of my cherry tree. I miss my girl, my future family. But, I am sure that she did her job. So did I.

I’ll just sit a spell. … take my time to dry, yes…..

I think I can fly now. All dry.

(heavy breathing, puffing and puffing)

Better get up, quick. There’s a herd of fat humans coming down the platform toward me. Lots of them. Heavy feet. Oh no, no. they are carrying more fiberglass logs.

I’m dead. I’m dead. They will crush me.


… No, I can fly. I can!

Human children are laughing below at my tacky flight drying out. Must be clumsy looking, huh? One just said ‘it’s only a cicada, daddy.  They don’t bite.’

Weird, huh?

Oh well, now to my cherry tree. Hope somebody is still there.

Oh yes. Hey, Mr. Human down there. Thank you.  Sorry for all the ugly thoughts. See you sometime in the next decade, … well, one of us will anyway.

Be there, dude.


Economist Barbier: Check Nature’s Services Before Coastline Development


Earlier this month, distinguished University of Wyoming economist Edward B. Barbier traveled to the Maryland State Capital, Annapolis, to talk about ignorance, compromise, and maintaining human prosperity. Just down the street, the Maryland General Assembly began its annual 3-month session. None of the 188 Maryland legislators would be listening to Dr. Barbier. He spoke not of politics, but of a much broader recipe for our planet’s survival.

He addressed a gathering of ecology-minded professionals at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) about the social value of a mangrove forest coastline Thailand. Yes, it was not exactly a planet saving topic, but the context was.


In Essays: Loretta’s Dryer

It’s July 31, 1955 and Loretta is happy.The delivery truck just pulled up to the house.

The delivery men threw up the big truck’s rear door and there it was, prettier than it ever was in the store window.

She watched them pull the thing out–one of those new-fangled clothes dryers, folded neatly and all shiny with thin plastic ropes twisted about it. It was so exciting and she knew as a new mother, this purchase would be a great help with a new baby and all. Loretta and husband Pete were blessed on July 20 with their first child.