Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Photo Bin - December 2012

Another year ends. But don’t be lookin’ here for a “year in review” or a list of goals for the new one. I’ve come to the point in my life that I don’t spend too much time dwelling on what’s past or pondering what’s ahead. Now I simply strive to breath deeply of each day, knowing that what’s here and now is all that’s really promised. So looking back just a month is far enough, especially when I get to do it by flipping through my “pile” of pictures for these Photo Bin posts.

One of the joys of December, around here, is that the low hanging sun traces a daily arc, visible, sunrise to sunset, from our perch on the ridge through our large south-facing windows. We wake with it peeking through our toes and, if we wished to, could languish in bed and watch the distant ball of fire sweep the sky until it disappears in a blaze of color. The photo above gives you an idea of what we see.

Yeah, I know. More bare trees. What can I say?

A whimsical window of another sort. Snow on Christmas; not something this southern boy has seen often. We traveled Chicago-way to spend the holiday with the grandkids (and their parents, of course) and I caught the fine flurries through a front port window. I thought the nested frames needed a little twist and an odd crop. No, I had not been in the eggnog before I composed it. But shortly thereafter...

And speaking of windows, this little guy gave me his best pissed-off, WTF glare after beak-planting into ours. He was stunned enough to let me pick him up, smooth his ruffled feathers, and place him at the edge of the deck, but coherent enough to give me a nasty look after I did it. Serves him right for fighting with himself in my truck's side-view mirrors and pooping on the doors.

More bare trees. This lovely thing sits next to my sister-in-law's recently completed quarter-acre Indiana farm pond. We visited for an early Christmas gathering of Mary's family and, while there was no snow, it was foggy as the dickens. I caught the first fish taken from that pond, earlier this year. Though none were stocked, the pond suddenly came alive with bream; how they got there, a complete mystery. But no one's complaining and I'll now be spending some of my future warm-weather Hoosier visits with a 2wt in hand.

A little more of that light Chicago snowfall. I like this picture of the kids' neighborhood back courtyard for the way the angles of building, tree, and railing pull the eye around image. I am told real photographers consider such things in their work. Who knew?

Oh look. More bare trees.

Finally, inside, away from The Hawk, there's a mean game of pong-pong going on. (And yes, I do mean pong-pong.) Here's the grandson about to unleash his devastating no-look CB smash.

Take that, Grandma.

Well, that's it, 2012. Here's hopin' for a safe and Happy New Years to all, no matter how far ahead you wish to look.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Fire: The Gift

Finally, the end of this Christmas tale. All four parts may be seen at once, in order, here, for those who want to start from the beginning.

No one found Timmy that Christmas Eve. None of the searching men, worried women, or barking dogs. Even Dad’s ceaseless scour of the surrounding countryside went fruitless. Instead, the desperate search for Nate’s younger brother ended as many such searches do; with a soft bump on the back step and a child’s surprise at the fuss that ensues when he walks in the door. The boy’s return felt no less miraculous for of its simplicity.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas Fire: The Search

Warning: This is the third post of a four part holiday tale. If you're just arriving, part one is here and part two is here. But if that's too much work, just wait. It will all be over soon.

“I don’t know what to do. There’s no time and there’s no money.”
“He asks for so little.”
“He’s growing up. It’s time he understood.”
“But he’s still just a boy.”
“I know, but he needs to learn that life’s hard here.”

The kitchen clock’s monotonous movement ticked through the house.

“Maybe I’ll make him a special batch of snickerdoodles. He loves them so.”

The wind rattled the bedroom pane.

“Yes. Yes, he does.”

Nate, upstairs, buried his head under the pillow, unable to eavesdrop any longer, and, after a long, long time, fell asleep.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Brief Intermission

Intermission, here, for A Christmas Fire. Since I've been overwhelming you with words, here's a visual break; shots taken from yesterday's cold and rainy day on Been-Sworn-To-Secrecy Creek with my buddies Ken, Bill, and, despite their absence in these pics, a shit-load of brook trout.

The lobby lights are flashing. Kindly return to your seats. Our holiday tale will resume shortly.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Christmas Fire: The Queen

Heads Up: This is the second piece of a four part holiday tale. If you haven't already, I'd recommend that you read Part One here. But then, don't let me tell you what to do.

Nate had been a fisherman since before he could remember. Dad had a small cane pole ready for him the day he could sit upright and for his fifth birthday he'd received a shiny new Shakespeare Wonderod. The fiberglass beauty became Nate’s constant companion and together they’d fished every trickle in the county. The Wonderod was shortened a few inches, courtesy of a tumble in Archers Pass when he was seven, but Dad had replaced the tip guide, making it as good as new. Nate reckoned he’d use it forever. That changed the day he found himself in Widow Harper’s tool shed.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas Fire: The Burning

It looks odd hanging there above the graceful works of fly rod royalty. Above the rich caramel-hued Granger Register. Above the stunning blonde HL Leonard Catskill. Above works of bamboo art, though their soiled cork grips suggest they are more than just pretty things. Whatever their utility, they are lovely to look at. Yet there it sits, elevated to the place of honor. The place of significance. It can only be that it has a story.

It was two days 'till Christmas and colder than a teacher’s tit. At least that’s what Johnny Culver said in the coatroom, making Nate and all of the other 5th graders giggle hysterically and check over their shoulders to be sure Miss Anderson wasn’t within earshot. Nate’s little brother, Timmy, heard it too and laughed the loudest, though it was certain that he didn’t get the joke. But that lack of understanding didn't stop him from repeating it later in the lunchroom and earning Johnny another trip to Principle Dan’s office. Third time this week and it was only Tuesday. Nate wondered if such things were tracked. If so, Johnny was surely on school record pace. As Miss Anderson dragged him down the hallway, Johnny glared back and pointed his stubby finger at Timmy. Everyone knew what that meant. And while Nate felt powerless to stop it, he was inclined to look the other way when it happened.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Strip Trees

I'm tantalized by trees
This time of year
Disrobing to appreciative eyes
Standing stark against Carolina skies
The patterns of branches
Against breathtaking expanses
Light or dark
Inspire me to stretch the limits
In their depiction

I sincerely hope that they don't mind
A digital peek
And a Photoshop tweak
Or two

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fish Fry

So I’m wanderin’ through the local big box toy store (no, it's not one of my usual haunts, but with Christmas approaching grandfathers 'R' asked to do such things) and my trout senses start tingling. When you spend enough time straining to spot the shadowy shapes of submerged salmonids it becomes instinctive and subconscious, even when you're off the stream. Once a fly fisherman…

Anyway, my radar says there’s fish close by. I freeze in my tracks, get low, and silently survey the rows of colorful shelves while nearby shoppers move nervously towards the exits. I can't pick out the target and kick myself for not having my polarized glasses. But wait. Yes. There. Between the remote control monster trucks and the Wreck-it Ralph action figures. I see it. The Fish Fry.

I'm stunned. Random reactions run rampant through my cerebral cortex.

That’s SO wrong! Or is it?
It does introduce kids to fishing… maybe… but not catch and release.
A cut brown, brown ‘bo, rain brown, cutty rain brown? Hank would know.
Kid. That trout's only 7 inches! Did you check your local wildlife regs before you fried it?
Let me get this straight. A kit to play outdoors, indoors?
You can “Camp out in your room” when you turn fourteen, Junior. And then stay there 'till college.
Cookin' at the campsite” Hey! That’s MY shtick!

And then there’s…

No fire. I'm bummed. Doubly so when I realize that the pass-around flask of Jack isn't included either.

We'll fix that at the next stop.

Done 'R' I shopping.