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  #101 (permalink)  
Old 07-17-2013, 06:05 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Come the end of the week, I again will take on the task of delivering the eulogy at the funeral of the young boy who passed on last night. No matter how many times I face this task, it becomes more difficult to rein in my own personal emotions, as me and mine know too well the grief endured by his family.

So, I will do that which I strive for when trying to deliver words of comfort in front of a church filled with unfamiliar faces-- I will attempt to celebrate the young boy's life rather than merely dwell on his death. His family and friends need to know what a great kid he was, and why he-- and all of "my kids" --always will be special... in ways unimagined by most...

If you've ever had the urge to see true courage, bravery and a inner grace that transcends the norm and comes wrapped up in a very young package, spend a few hours visiting a children's cancer center. Therein, you'll find a great part of the reasons why I continue to hold my annual tying classes for "my kids..."

Jerry, aka hairwing530
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  #102 (permalink)  
Old 07-17-2013, 11:46 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

To the two authors of the e-mails sent to me this morning, the contents of which "dressed me down" for "foisting" my religious leanings on a dying boy, I address the following...

I won't apologize for my actions during the other night, or my re-telling of the events in Post #100 of this thread as they occurred. I stand behind each and every single thing I did, inclusive of the gifting of a religious medal once given to me by the late Montgomery Jackson. It was done as both a token of my affection for one of "my kids," and as a source of comfort. No hidden religious agenda, and nothing else...

To call me out and attempt to impose your own religious perspectives on me, or to accuse me of some alterior motives means but one thing-- you totally missed the point of it all! I respect any and all men and their freedom of choice, especially when it comes to the religion in which they choose to believe or worship. I do not sit in judgment of anyone's choices in life, no matter my own beliefs. That's just not me. Obviously, my giving the young boy a religious medal bearing the likeness of St. Peter got under your skin, and proved the basis for the electronic attack this morning.

As I said earlier in this missive, I stand behind what I did, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat and not give it a second thought. Why? Because it was the right thing to do-- for me --at that moment, especially given the fact that the boy and his parents were/are Catholics, the same religion in which I was raised.

So, please don't expect an apology... not in this lifetime!!!

Jerry, aka hairwing530
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  #103 (permalink)  
Old 07-18-2013, 05:53 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

As time moves along at its steady pace-- some might call it "relentless" --I'm finding that the late Montgomery Jackson continues his impact on the life and times of me, and things as they are or shall be. And, I was reminded of that fact yet again this morning...

Come the twilight hours of tomorrow evening, I will deliver my eulogy as promised for one of my former students, only the venue won't be the brick-and-mortar confines of a church. Rather, the words will be spoken amidst the wooded surroundings of that special place known as "Trail's End," with the sound of the river nearby providing a soft backdrop to the spreading of the youngster's ashes.

Why "Trail's End?" Well, it is a place that was special to both the youngster and his father, as they both came to know the late Montgomery Jackson while he walked this earth, as the elder Jackson was a frequent visitor to the classes for "my kids." Besides that, "Trail's End" is a place that Montgomery Jackson enjoyed sharing with like-minded souls, and I believe that he deeded the place to me as a way for me to continue that tradition.

So, to honor the late Montgomery Jackson's zest for living and his particular "take" on life, he and the youngster will "join forces," so to speak, come the early evening hours of Friday night. Granted, the gathering will be much smaller than usual, but those in attendance will be privy to a celebration of the youngster's short life, and to the knowledge as to why the place known as "Trail's End" was chosen as his final place to rest.

Then, after most have left for the evening, the late youngster's father and I will set adrift one of the special pieces of river wood bearing his son's favorite fly. I finished rough-carving the boy's initials into the wood last night and mounted the fly just an hour or so ago. It is my last gift to the young boy and his memory, and I pray that he, Montgomery Jackson and the "gang" all will look upon it kindly...
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  #104 (permalink)  
Old 07-21-2013, 04:05 PM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

THE "WISHBONE NET..."

As I laid out the old net, it was the well-worn zebra-wood and maple handle that first caught my eye, followed almost immediately by the broken left "wing" that was splayed at an odd angle to the rest of the net. Still strung with a deep-bag netting that pre-dates even me in its design-- standard net towards the top half and finer net closer to the bottom --it was clear that the "repair project" was going to be a challenge. But then, if it was going to be an easy fix, it probably wouldn't interest me so.

Still, that the net needs to be made whole again is a given. It once was a favorite of the late Montgomery Jackson, and because of that fact alone, I intend to see its pieces unified again. It also was chosen by a few members of my upcoming classes of "my kids" as the symbol for their class, one whose "wishbone" design speaks of the hope "my kids" all carry of getting better one day. It is a premise to which I can relate on every front.

For those of you unfamiliar with the "wishbone design," picture a net built along the lines of a proverbial "wishbone"-- a handle from which two handles extend straight out, with only a strap of leather strung between them. It's a classic in its own right, and one I intend to resurrect to its former glory.

So, my "project" over the next couple of months will be to restore the old "wishbone" net, strengthening its "wings" and refurbishing the original net with a bit of net splicing. I gave thought to upgrading the netting, but then thought better of it. I've got enough in the way of nets around here, and once repaired, I'd rather not risk any further damage... OK, except on very special occasions.

As I tucked the net into a safe place this afternoon, I began to realize that the refurbishment of this beauty of a netted remnant from "Trail's End" truly will bring with it that sense of wonder and hope that we all need from time to time, no matter our lot in life...
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Last edited by hairwing530; 07-22-2013 at 04:17 PM.
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  #105 (permalink)  
Old 07-23-2013, 05:30 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

The light rain dripped off the brim of my old Filson hat, one of two that have called my head "home" over the years. Standing there this morning with the soft glow of the aged Coleman lantern in my left hand and the keys to "Trail's End" in my right, the cabin was more of a "suggestion" rather than a statement in the darkness that surrounded the 4:00 am hour.

The heavy clap of a nearby thunderstorm had started the process around 3:00 am, waking me from a somewhat restless sleep. Resolving myself to the fact that a full night's rest was not to be, I got dressed in the darkness and made a pot of coffee before stepping out onto the porch to check on the heaviness of the rain. Satisfied that I could stand a little soaking around the edges, I loaded the thermos and lantern into the "Fish Truck" and headed off to the gate at "Trail's End."

My original intent was to do a thorough check of the roofing job's performance in keeping the weather out, and I could think of no better time than during the storm. I also wanted to see the old place in a way that I seldom see it these days-- active and alive, and with the porch lantern lit, and the soft glow of oil lamps illuminating the windows.

As the door closed behind me, the old Coleman led the way to the lamps. A wick at the ready behind each globe, I struck a match to start them all, opting for the long kitchen matches of yesterday rather than the little butane pipe lighter in my right pocket. And, as the light intensified, so, too, did the definition of the cabin's interior, and the fact that the entire place was as dry as they come.

Satisfied as to the roof's integrity, I grabbed my hat and headed back out toward the fire-pit that rests no more than 20 yards or so from the front door. It was there that I stood in the rain again, taking a few moments just to appreciate the warmth of the lights from inside the cabin, beacons in a sea of darkness that welcomed one and all who waded the rivers of Spring and Summer, or chased the woodcock and ruffed grouse of Fall.

There is a certain sort of beauty about the darkness just before first light comes calling, an attraction that nearly defies description. It's a place of imagination, one that seems limitless and unending, and one that puts all men on equal footing. And, to my eyes at 4:00 am this morning, the darkness proved to be a beautiful backdrop to the glow that spilled out from the windows of "Trail's End." For the first time in a long while, the old cabin near the horseshoe bend looked exactly right...
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  #106 (permalink)  
Old 07-24-2013, 03:11 PM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

What a beautiful evocative portrait of a loved and lovely place and time. I trust my breathing over your shoulder didn't disturb your reverie. Now I have to get out of this damp rain jacket, pour a tot of single malt from my flask, sit down, put my feet up and enjoy the rest of the story.
Mark
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  #107 (permalink)  
Old 07-25-2013, 06:23 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

It drives the women of this household almost to the point of distraction, my 4:00 am "messing around" in the tying room-- unloading boxes, shuffling stuff around and wrapping boxes, pulling out my "stash(es)" of vintage flies and generally getting started into another day next to the river. If they don't hear the sounds of the ol' "Fish Truck" firing up, the Speaker of the House and our youngest daughter generally resolve themselves to a few hours of "restless" sleep as Dear Old Dad gets going in the darkness leading up to first light. Thankfully, they allow me my "short-comings," as they aptly describe my need to kick things off early...

And, I'm seldom alone, even in the pre-dawn "at home" activities, as our resident Maine **** Cat almost always feels the need to join the party, so to speak. I've long appreciated the cat's company, despite her fascination with feathers, flies and whatever else might grace the old roll-top that serves as my tying desk. In growing up on a farm in the late 1950's- and most of the 1960's, "barn cats" all were part of the "fabric" of the farm, and you couldn't help but admire them for the jobs they performed. Their numbers seemed to ebb and flow with the passing of each year, but their devotion to their "farm duties" was timeless.

Of late, I've noticed that most of the ads I come across go out of their way to spell out the qualifiers "comes from a pet-free, smoke-free" home, and I have to wonder how much of an improvement there would be in their quality of life if said advertisers knew the affection of a cat or dog. My own life would be infinitely less rich, had I not been privy to an endless stream of bird dogs, retrievers, and yes, the cats. Animals of almost every kind have been part of the equation for as long as I can remember, and part and parcel of the lives of the men who introduced me to the sporting life-- my grandfather, "Doc" H. and the late Montgomery Jackson.

So, if you ever happen to purchase something from me, please don't expect it to come without a touch of pet hair, or the trace odor of pipe smoke. I am what and who I am-- for better or for worse, but always just me...

And, mcsteff? Feel free to tag along anytime, my friend...
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  #108 (permalink)  
Old 07-28-2013, 05:07 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

He stood on the hilltop overlooking the woodland stream, a small tributary of one of his favorite rivers whose cold and constant spring-fed flow always seemed to harbor a fair number of respectable brook trout all year, and a wandering thread of water that fed a surrounding bog area that held woodcock in the Fall. Satisfied that things were as they should be, he joined the two sections of the little 3-weight, strung the rod and started his walk down a path that he knew would put him within easy reach of the myriad undercut banks.

His right shoulder howled in protest as he fired off the first of what would be many casts that day. Too many years spent playing left field and shortstop with a partially torn right-side rotator-cuff he generally ignored. That, and still trying to prove that he had a 20's-something "gun" for an arm, rather than giving in to a more common-sense approach and acknowledging the limitations imposed by a history of broken bones and other infirmaries that all resided in a body much older than his mind would accept.

It took nearly a dozen casts before his right shoulder muscles started to loosen a bit and allowed him a more precise and fluid delivery of his chosen fly for the afternoon. As the smallish parachute landed just above the 'cut beneath the southern-most bank, it disappeared within the small swirl that quickly gave way to the first "hook-up" of the day.

Flashing colors that literally screamed "brook trout," the little 3-weight flexed into an arc akin to a horseshoe, bending to the pull of the fish on one end, and the gentle pressure being applied on the other end of the rod. Within minutes, the battle was over and he found himself lying prone on the streambank and reaching down to ease the small barbless hook from the lip of the fish. Once released, it disappeared with a flip of its tail, heading back to its hold opposite of where he was laid out on his belly.

It was a scenario that repeated itself over the course of the remaining hours. He released as many as the number of fish responsible for their own freedom, a "self-release" gained by throwing his best hooks. It quickly became one of those "keeper" kind of days, the ones a man salts away for the long winter hours between seasons...

(Continued below...)
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Last edited by hairwing530; 07-28-2013 at 02:19 PM.
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  #109 (permalink)  
Old 07-28-2013, 02:27 PM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

A Thread Continued...

As the afternoon progressed, the rising from his prone position on the bank became increasingly difficult, and for what some would call "once in his life," he gave in to common sense and decided it best to make the tough call and pack things up for the day. And, it was while he was pushing himself to his feet that he caught a glimpse of his face in the stream, one a little more worn and older around the edges, and one that differed greatly from his own perceptions...

The small setter pushed at my hat brim, waking me from my short nap on a ground now cooling with the coming of sunset. Not one to be denied when she puts her mind to it, I slowly rose and brushed the leafy debris from my clothes that had been my temporary bed moments before, and then started the walk back out to the ol' "Fish Truck." As I eased behind the wheel, I cast a casual glance into the rearview mirror and realized from the amount of my own "weathering" reflected there that the man who'd wandered through my dreamscape was exactly the same as the one staring back at me. How slow we are to notice the process that ages us so...

"If we waste but a minute of our lives pursuing other things when we could have been fishing, then we've truly wasted far too much time..."
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  #110 (permalink)  
Old 07-30-2013, 05:27 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

It's been an amazing journey, reading about "me" and my life through the eyes of the late Montgomery Jackson. Sometimes poignant, at other times "scolding"-- a necessary "chewing out" of sorts, but only in the best of ways --but always completely honest and full-on "Montgomery Jackson." It's become increasingly obvious over the pages that he thought me more a son than just the grandson of an old friend.

As enlightening as the journals have been, I've been given lately to reading more of the late Montgomery Jackson's own personal journaling of his years spent along the river and his navigating of life in general. And, through it all, one thing has become crystal clear-- I now believe that I took a little too long to realize what a treasure trove there was to be found in the man.

Granted, in his mind, my comings and goings were proverbial "highlights," and we always had a heckuva time whenever we shared a fire, a favorite trout hide, or just an hour swapping lies on the front porch of "Trail's End." But, in the haste of my younger years, I totally missed some of the "layers" that made up the man-- skills and talents that went well beyond the obvious, and a few he kept hidden for no one other than himself, and only to be discovered long after he'd left this earth. His artistic talents immediately come to mind...

Somebody once told me that the lives of men are sometimes akin to a good game of poker, in that every man keeps an "ace" or "hold card" in his vest pockets. If it is true, then I look forward to discovering even more of the personal deck from which the late Montgomery Jackson dealt so heavily. The layers of one such individual-- or any good man, for that matter --are always worth whatever work it takes to gently peel them back...
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