Thursday, February 20, 2014

Skipping Away

I shuffled through the rapidly accumulating Indiana snow, head down, buried deep in my overcoat and deeper in my thoughts. Adrift. The night air hung heavy; a thick winter pall, muting all sound and shrouding all sight; a white weight descending, smothering, despite the mortuary's parking lot lights' best efforts to pierce the soft obscurity.

Forgive me, kind reader, this cruel bait and switch, for this post is not about the fish pictured above, impressive though they be. Rather, it is about the young lady in the middle, holding the trophies. Truth be told, she was not a sportswoman - at least not for the years that I knew her - though the piles of photos we've wandered through these past couple of days hold their share of sepia-toned surprises; big bass just the beginning. Who is the girl? That vibrant young thing is my wife's mother, Emmy, who, I am so sad to say, left us this past week.

No obituary, this. No recount of the things she'd accomplished in her lifetime, as if there was room for them all to be listed here. This is no long tribute. Let the papers do that.

Instead, it is a simple thanks. For her smile. For her warmth. For her generosity. And for her gracious acceptance of me, though I turned up in her daughter's life at the most awkward of times. Thank you for so many things, dear Emmaline, but especially for that.

As my wife communicated the passing and simple details to friends and family, she, at one point, texted that her mother had slipped away, only to have a misplaced finger, no doubt assisted by misty eyes, misspell and send that she had skipped away. Mary quickly rectified the error, but its recipient replied that he rather liked the image of Emmy skipping happily once again, on to her next big challenge.

And as I trudged through the parking lot to clear the windshield and warm the cold car after the family visitation, surrounded by the hush of falling snow and heavy hearts, I, too, had to smile as I imagined the lass with the bass skipping away; pirouetting into the endless swirls of white.

Godspeed, dear Emmy. Godspeed.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Electricity

There's a couple good fires' worth ready on the deck

And a short stack covered up if we need more dry wood.

The truck's at the top of the hill, in as open a spot as we have on these acres.

The boxes of greens and garlic and onions are covered.

Warm blankets have been pulled from the closet.

The tub's full of "flush water"

There's a reminder to stay out of the basement freezer.

The masonry heater is ready to go

with enough kindling to get things started. 

And should things start falling, we'll cut our way free.

The gas stove is set

and there are plenty of periodicals to catch up on.

Most importantly, the pantry is stocked.

Snow and ice in the South? Bring it on.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I Was At The Show... Really

I promise, dear. I was there.

Two full days wandering the Fly Fishing Expo held in Winston Salem. The problem is that I have absolutely no proof of it. I bought nothing. Accumulated no pile of free swag. Took no photographs of significance.

I missed every presentation that I meant to see (Sorry, Dean. Twice.), still have every business card that I left the house with (like this retired old fart really needs a business card anyway), and left no imprint, whatsoever, that can be pointed to.

Worse still, I have no product news to report, no hot gear to review, no industry revelations to pass on.

In short, I’ve epically failed as a blogger/reporter/whatever it is that I’m pretending to be doing here.

At least there are no new tattoos.

Instead, I wandered the aisles with old friends, made an abundance of new ones, and was reminded by each that the joy of this sport lies within the folks that you come to know. My back is sore from two days of standing on hard concrete and my ribs ache from laughing for most of it. The feet feel like lead, yet the spirits soar. My fingers hurt from a hundred handshakes, but the warmth of each and every greeting still radiates up my arm and comforts me like a favored fleece.

The fly fishing community is something special.

In the absence of solid evidence, I have to rely on my compatriots to confirm that I actually was there. So here's an urgent plea for backup. And, at the same time, huge thanks go out to:

First and foremost, Cameron Mortenson (The Fiberglass Maifesto) for having me along, sharing a room, and letting me play with his case full of fly rods. It was a pure pleasure and time that I hope we can repeat down the road. My respect for what you do continues unabated.

Ethan Smith (SmithFly), and his dad, for making the trip down with his terrific gear, allowing me to stow my camera bag behind his display, and not complaining when I occasionally “played saleman” with passers by. You’re a good sport, Ethan, and now a good friend.

My new partner in fly fishing crime, Cory Routh (Ruthless Outdoors), and his dad as well, for keeping the evenings entertaining, whether the place runs out of beer or not.

(To all three of you, and to Tom "Another Quarter-Mile" Gould, three words. Sexual Chocolate Stout.)

Tom Sadler (Mossy Creek Fly Fishing and current president of the Outdoor Writers Association of America). Chris Hunt has been telling me for some time now that you and I would hit it off big. For once in his life, he was right.

Kent Edmonds (Temple Fork Outfitters) for letting me bend his ear, and his fly rods, every time we cross paths. I always look forward to spending a moment (or thirty) with him at each of the shows. I hope that he doesn’t mind the distraction. He’s truly one of the good guys.

Smith River fishin’ buddy, Darrin Doss (Darrin Doss Photography). It was great seeing him at the show and, better yet, meeting the better half. Jennifer, thanks for letting Darrin come out to play with me now and again. Sorry about getting him hooked on musky. And the best of luck on the upcoming half-marathon! Better you than me.

Thomas Harvey (Southern Fly Photography) for not having his camera along, thus making me feel better about not using mine. Oh, and for being as entranced with Lefty as I am.

Dave Grossman (Southern Culture on the Fly) for, well, just being Dave.

Reba Brinkman (Hunter Banks) for keeping the loose bunch of Western Carolina misfits in some semblance of order (how, I’ll never know) and for being kind to me for no apparent reason. It’s good to finally be formally acquainted.

Joel DeJong (A Year on the Fly, Hex Fishing). Glad to finally get to shake your hand, my friend, after all these years. And I look forward to that thing (nod, wink) as it gets going.

Richard Griggs (Carolina Mountain Sports) for always being there for the outdoorsmen (and women) of our state. At the shows, in the shop, on the forums, you’re a treasured resource and good friend.

Paul Puckett and Brad McMinn for making our sport look so damn good. Paul’s Bugger Beast art and $20 original pieces (that’s a joke, folks) are totally fun and I’m thrilled to see Brad’s work being so overwhelmingly well-received at the show. Long time coming.

All my Triangle Fly Fisher mates that wandered the aisles. It’s always a blast to share time, on and off the water. I count myself lucky to be associated with each and every one of you. If you're in the Raleigh/Durham/CH area...

Lefty and Bob and Joe, who, by now, I feel like I can call by first name, though they look at me funny when I do. I’ve watched each of them demo more times than I can count, yet with every presentation I pick up some new tidbit to make my stroke better. (Now, if I'd only apply them.) These gentlemen are the treasures of our sport; our past and our archives.

And then there’s our future. I walked away deeply impressed with the young bucks of Pursuit Anglers and their incredibly beautiful and useful ties. Great young men with infectious attitudes and real joy in the creations that come off their vises. Our sport is in great hands for many years to come.

Finally, my most profound thanks go to the couple of you who stopped me in the aisles to say hello, having somehow recognized my face from these goofy pages. I cannot begin to express how humbled I am and appreciative of these greetings and your kind comments on what I’m doing hereabouts...

…even though I’ve failed you completely, yet again.

Just the same, please tell Mary that I really was at the show. If you don't, she might just believe that I'd actually slipped off and done something else.

Like, maybe, go fishin'... again.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Photo Bin - January 2014

Yes, this is a fly fishing blog. Mostly. But I have steadfastly maintained the right to wander off topic when it comes to these monthly photo bins because everything that falls out of the camera isn't a fish. Especially when you cast like I do.

This month's images were gathered far from the stream. They were shot, instead, in the dark, quiet halls of the NC Museum of Art as I wandered in a blissful, reverent haze, paying unabashed homage to the sleek lovelies that rolled in with the Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed exhibit.

And while they're not strictly fishing, I fully expect that if you appreciate the graceful lines of a mako shark, the stunning finish on a brookie in spawn, or the raw power of a tailwalking tarpon, these babies are right up your waterway.

Tell me I'm wrong.

If I had to make the impossible choice and bring only one of these honeys home, it might just be this 1988 Type 959. While walking the exhibit (leaving a sloppy, slippery trail of drool so deep you could swing a streamer in it) I listened to one of the museum's audio headsets as they described each of the four-wheeled wet dreams. I remember just two words from the spiel on the 959. Scary fast. When the Porsche engineers describe it in those terms...

Bonefish fast, it occurs to me, and I can see the resemblance.

But let's face it, the 959's totally impractical. These days, perhaps it's best to put away the boyish dreams and help save the world with a hybrid.

Here, Prius, Prius, Prius. I've got something for you...

Note: These shots are just the tip of the iceberg. I have dozens more pictures. But, better than them, check out these beauties, and all of the others on exhibit, here. Be sure to view the complete galleries of each of these amazing creatures. It's worth it.

Oh, and the lovelies pictured above, in order, are:
  1. 1949 Type 356 Gmünd Coupe
  2. 1938 Type 64 Berlin-Rom Racer
  3. 1953 Type 550 Prototype
  4. 1965 Type 904/6 Prototype
  5. 1989 Panamericana Concept Car
  6. Super Cool Porsche Tires
  7. 1989 Type 959
  8. 2010 Type 911 GT3 R Hybrid Race Car Prototype

What is a Photo Bin?