This tree is fishy

The Truckee River Trout Tree

Photo by Jimmy Boegle

The Truckee River Trout Tree is located on Riverside Drive where Keystone Avenue ends, just southwest of the McKinley Arts & Culture Center. Last fall, thanks to funding from William and Barbara Thornton and family, the city of Reno commissioned artists Bob Berry and Bill Cooke to make the dead tree into a work of art. The men carved the tree’s four large branches into seven fish, which represent local species: rainbow trout, brown trout, Lahontan cutthroat and Cui-ui.

So, you’re kind of like a “fish out of water,” eh?

Very funny. Like I haven’t heard that one before. I am a fish—well, seven of them, actually—coming out of a tree. This is not normal. It’s caused me to be fraught with some really deep psychological issues.

Deep psychological issues?

Yeah, identity issues. What am I? A tree? Well, if I am a tree, I am freaking DEAD, which would royally suck. If I am a school of fish, I am not in the water, so I am going to die in that case, too.

You’re neither a tree nor a school of fish. You’re a work of art.

That’s what I tell myself to keep from going bonkers. But I am not in a museum. I am not in a gallery. I am outside, stuck in a lawn, where cars drive by me all the time. That’s kind of weird for a work of art. I am also fraught because I am already cracking.

I can see that. Some of the fish have some pretty serious cracks in their heads.

And I’ve been here for less than a year. The weather is already taking a toll on me. Plus, part of me is rotting. You know how you humans get cavities in your teeth? Well, I have a cavity right in the middle of me. Imagine getting a big, rotting cavity in your torso.

Good lord!

Tell me about it!

But I still think you look cool. And it could be worse. You could be firewood right now.

That is true. But with me seriously cracking already, how long am I going to last in this Nevada weather? And what about this case of rot?

I don’t know. Maybe the city should look into doing something about that cracking and rotting.

I agree. After all, they spent enough money on me. I should at least last a while.

So, aside from your various problems, how’s life?

It has its ups and downs. I get to see lots of hot, sexy fish swim by in the Truckee River here. That’s nice. But on the other hand, dogs and other animals, well, like to mark me as their territory, if you catch my drift.

I am sorry. That’s awful.

Yeah, it can be rough. I didn’t mind it so much when I was a tree. I mean, that’s what trees are for. But now that I am art, well, it just doesn’t seem right.