Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Photo Bin - June 2015

Summertime, and the livin' is easy

Easy, that is, as long as you don't mind it hot. These days, you get outside and get it done in the morning and then settle into the house and enjoy the air conditioning for a while.

So it was early that we got out on the pond and I introduced Jackson to the long rod. Being the good outdoorsman that he is, he took to it quickly and picked up his first fish on the fly, pictured above. He graduated quickly from brim to bass as he later boated a nice four-pounder, but only after a beastly bucketmouth crushed his popper, took him under the canoe, and tailwalked on the other side before spitting the bug. It's a moment that I know he'll never forget; the kind of moment that shapes us as fishermen.

After a good bass or two, a cooling dip always feels great. This is what a child's summer should look like. The pond to yourself. Come back and visit again soon, Jackson. I thoroughly enjoyed your company. And next time we'll get that big guy.

The other way to cool off is to sneak away to the Appalachians for a little hiking. Follow the trail for a mile or two, find a nice big rock sluice, and simply  chill out. It feels odd walking these woods without a 4wt, but I did it for many years, backpacking this watershed, before finding the fly rod. It was here that I learned to love hiking and camping along these beautiful small streams. The migration to fishing them was inevitable.

Sharing this place with the best of friends is a joy and the perfect way to appreciate the season. Go ahead. Let it be hot.

So hush litte baby, Don't you cry.

What is a Photo Bin?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fathers and Sons - A Father's Day Repost

Summer 1982
Durham, North Carolina
Rice's Farm pond
My father, my son, a Zebco and a few zealous bluegills

Dad, I'm glad that we finally saw eye to eye
Glad that I grew to understand
Wish that those last five years could have been twenty-five

Son, I simply wish I could touch you one more time
Just one more time
I miss watching you grow into the man that I know you would have become
Miss it desperately

Don't let being Fathers and Sons get in the way
of being fathers and sons
Today is more precious than you know

My father, my son
on my mind this weekend

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Fish Don't Care

Gonna rain in an hour. Gonna rain hard.

He'd pulled through the boat ramp with his F-150 and trailer of canoes and made the pronouncement like it was the end of the world. We nodded and kept loading the boat. He wasn't the only one with a weather app. After a minute he shrugged and drove off, presumably to warn the rest of the unsuspecting world of the coming cataclysm. That, or load his family and worldly goods into his flotilla of Old Towns in preparation for the floods.

Did we look like a little rain was going to scare us off?

Fishing in the rain's no problem, as long as there's no crackly stuff. A solid rain shell, appropriate wet storage, and good company is all that it takes. And, as the old saying goes, the fish don't care; they're already wet.

Someone had to say it. It's, like, a law.

We threw poppers till the bottom dropped out, then kept right on throwing them. Just ripped them harder so the smallies might see them in the riot of rain splashing the surface. That is, if the smallies were there. You couldn't tell by us.

A front either makes them eat or shuts them up, Dave said.

Pretty smart guy, that Dave.

So we pitched poppers and bitched at the weather. Neither were particularly effective. But what else is there to do on a five hour float when it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between above and below?

One thing's for sure. The fish didn't care.

Note: A huge thanks to my good friend, Pile Cast's Dave Hosler, and to my new fishing buddy Tom Grimes for a fun, but wet, day on Indiana waters. I called, short notice, and they made it happen. That's what this wonderful fly fishing community is all about.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Photo Bin - May 2015

I've been a bit of a slug, here of late. No major reason, but the phrase "death from a thousand cuts" keeps coming to mind. Little things. Small loses. Change. But I'm coming to realize that it's part of the process; why visits with aging parents turn into discussions of flagging health, old landmarks bulldozed, and who's passed this month. Yesterday's gone. We don't have to like it but it's best to make peace with it and do the best that we can with what's next.

For life, and photo bins, go on.

So if the big picture seems bleak, look for a small one and work your way back up. A new batch of praying mantises appeared on the porch the other day. Cute little guys, in a close encounters sort of way. (For reference, the pink petals of this trailing vinca are about an inch from stem to tip.)

It helps to stay busy and creative. I fish and dabble with my camera and pen. Mary tends a garden, does a little writing of her own, and creates fantastic weavings from natural materials. Here a willow bark basket, made the other day, supple and soft as a fine piece of leather. I simply love her work.

And friends. Always friends. Even if they regularly kick your ass on the water with their funky ties and color selections. Even if they wear Duke hats. (Yes, I know. If it ain't chartreuse, it ain't no use.)

And always, always embrace the new. Our Sammy's gone now, but Zeppelin's here. His introduction to you all is long overdue as he's been with us for more than a year. A beautiful Aussie, sweet of nature and with energy to burn. I swear that he sheds a small animal's worth each day but that's small price to pay for the companionship he's given us. He's the dog of the house now and we couldn't be happier.

Well, I guess that's it. Big month on tap so it's time to shake these doldrums and get on with living. Stick around. Maybe there'll be more interesting pics and I won't whine so much in the next photo bin.


What is a Photo Bin?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Wilderness Dog Sammy

For the past few years, the last thing I’ve done each and every evening has been to pick him up from his bed in the living area, carry him down the back deck’s steps into the yard for one last wobbly constitutional, and then return him gently to his kennel in my office for the night. Only then have I been ready for sleep.

It’s the most mundane things that you miss.

In time, such things become threads in the fabric of your life. The staying subconsciously tuned to any small noise that might suggest that he’s caught in a corner or under a chair. The listening for his small raspy breaths to try to keep track of which of the many pet beds, scattered about the house, that he's settled into. The responding to any whimper that might suggest the need for a trip to the yard. The juggling of meals and medications and subcutaneous fluids that have kept him comfortable and with us. A geriatric terrier takes some attention.

And yes, there were "good" years. Many. The stories I could tell. But the last have also been good in their own way, our lives woven more tightly through a dependency and a dedication and a tenderness that is hard to comprehend, much less describe. Man and dog intertwined by needs at their barest. But the threads have been pulled and our cloth has unraveled. Things here just don't fit quite the same.

Now there’s no reason to keep the door to the basement stairs closed, lest he tumble down them. No reason to excuse ourselves from the party every three hours to run back to the house for a moment of relief. No reason to take each first step with care in the likely event that he’s settled underfoot, just to be close to us.

For the past few years, the first thing I’ve done each and every morning has been to ask “Is Sammy awake yet?”

It will take some time before the answer settles in.

Godspeed, little Wilderness Dog,
Scourge of squirrels, chaser of deer, defiler of tall weeds.
Go run with the big dogs once again.