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Old 04-12-2013, 07:46 AM
hairwing530 hairwing530 is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: northern Michigan
Posts: 502
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Perfection... It's one of those mythical attributes that is beyond most of us mere mortals. And, in many ways, I find that to be a good thing, in that it keeps us working to be better at certain things throughout our time here--caring for our families and friendships, our angling pursuits, and just living our lives in the best ways possible. Last night, toward the tail end of Montgomery Jackson's Journal IV, I was reminded of my own "imperfections" and how far from my chosen "life path" I once wandered. The words also gave illumination to how little I knew about the rippling effects that my straying had nearly brought to bear...

When my grandfather died toward the end of my teens, I took an unintentional hiatus from all that once had been a huge part of my life-- fly fishing, fly-tying, and enjoying both with my elders. Just thinking about a day astream without him hurt like homemade sin! His death drove home the point that he would no longer be there to pull double-duty as mentor and companion to my own student and grandson role, and in that knowledge came a sort of tainting of any desires to be astream. His loss was an emotional "hay-maker" from which I would struggle to regain my footing.

Back then, I was naive enough to assume that I was alone in my despair. Little did I know that my decision to just up and quit all things "fly" and outdoors-related would bring with it a certain degree of fall-out, the bulk of which escaped my narrowed view of the world...

"Doc," for example, packed away his rods and tying gear, and hung his waders for the foreseeable future, his intentions being that of an end to his own days afield and astream. His best friend was gone, and it appeared that his death had literally ripped the angling heart from their "third wheel's" chest, that being me. "Doc's" stuff would lie in wait for the next three years.

But, it was Montgomery Jackson who took hardest my absentee status. After fishing alone for much of the next three years-- his son never understood the sport, viewing it as a waste of time --Montgomery made a mid-winter decision to sell off all of his gear and spend his days "just fussin' with projects at Trail's End." His collection quickly was snapped up by friends and associates of many years, and he, too, closed the door on his days in the river, feeling that they were over. I never really had a clue about the impact of my actions back then until late last night...

It was in May of 1976 that my young bride presented me with a pair of fine new fly rods, some waders, and my old fly vest taken from storage-- cleaned and made "river-ready" again. She summed it up in two words that I've never forgotten-- "It's time..." Handing me the keys to my truck, a bagged lunch and a thermos of coffee, she turned on her heels and left me to my own devices. Ten minutes later, I was headed north, wondering how rusty my casting stroke would be, and if my favorite spot on the North Branch of the AuSable River still held its fair share of brook trout. And, in the back of my mind, I pondered the prospects of finding Montgomery Jackson at "Trail's End."

As is typical of Michigan's Spring weather, the 4-wd. came in handy, though I knew by the tracks that someone was in residence at the old cabin, the confirmation coming via the thin strand of woodsmoke rising up out of the chimney.

My arrival was met in typical fashion-- me extending my hand and Montgomery pushing it aside in exchange for his mandatory "bear hug." It was then that I noticed how little things had changed around the place, and how good it was to again hear the sweet sounds of the AuSable River. Without so much as a "How and where ya' been," we loaded up into my truck and headed out-- me to fish, and Montgomery Jackson to coach, advise and observe my attempts to shake the rust off.

It was "one for the books," as they used to say, and the brookies were more than cooperative, almost to the point of sympathy rises. It surely wasn't my casting, fly placement or technique that brought them to the net, but it felt right, just the same.

We returned to "Trail's End" just after dark, and were puzzled to find the interior well-lit and the chimney still going. It all became clear in the span of a heartbeat. There, piled on the old kitchen table, sat a huge mound of gear, all of it once the property of Montgomery Jackson. Beside the pile sat a bottle of fine scotch, two glasses and a note. It read... "From your friends, Montgomery... And, welcome back, kid..." Sleep came easily later on...

While perfection may be elusive, I came within scant inches of it on that night in May, 1976. In my mind, it was as perfect as it gets... Jerry, aka hairwing530

Last edited by hairwing530; 04-12-2013 at 05:46 PM.
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