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  #141 (permalink)  
Old 10-25-2013, 05:23 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

As I sit down to write this, just before the hour of 6:00 am and an appointment with the couch for a few hours, my "easy-going" side has been pushed to the back of my mindset by my "royally PO'd and steamin' mad" side. Two "cronies" and I just wrapped up a 5.5 hours "middle of the night" stint at "Trail's End," boarding up a few windows via lantern light, sweeping up glass, putting a few new locks in place, and righting as much of the furniture/belongings/holdings of the little cabin as we could. The place had been "tossed," though it appears that little was taken.

Obviously, from the pile of four whitetail deer bodies littering the area near the fire pit, poachers had cut the locks from the gate and the front door, and used the cabin as a "squat" while they chain-sawed the hind quarters from the four deer. All young does and all the victims of gunshot wounds-- rifle season is still nearly a month away here in Michigan, hence the "poachers" description --two to four guys spat in the face of hunting's rules of "fair chase," and violated every hunting belief that I learned growing up. They shot four young female whitetails after dark, and then proceeded to waste a fair amount of the meat. All of that before trashing the interior of "Trail's End" and throwing common sense to the wind...

What in the name of all that is holy gives some people the "right"-- or makes them believe they have the "right" --to do something like this? Jack-lighting deer in the middle of the night is sporting??? And, if that wasn't enough, trashing the nearby cabin for "grins?" (The multi-paned windows that we'll be replacing later today were broken out from the inside...) Will somebody please explain this sort of mindset to me, because I can't seem to wrap my head around this kind of thinking?????

As we prepared to leave "Trail's End" in the darkness this morning, I picked up the old sign about "heroes" before closing the front door and put it back in its rightful place. The fact that it was found lying on the floor spoke directly to the fact that those who were wandering around the interior of the little cabin only hours before our arrival last night were anything but "heroes..."

In my own very humble opinion, the lot of them are nothing short of pond scum... So sayeth Jerry, the very tired hairwing530...
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  #142 (permalink)  
Old 10-26-2013, 03:36 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

WOW, sorry to hear.

The bad karma will come there way one day!!
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  #143 (permalink)  
Old 10-28-2013, 06:09 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

We were wrapping up the interior clean-up at "Trail's End" yesterday and awaiting the arrival of the last glass sections for the windows when my two "fishing cronies" and I were witness to the purest definition of the word "stupid!" There, standing near the pile of the remaining whitetails gunned down in the dark of night, were the members of the crew responsible for the illegal slaughter. They'd come back to finish cleaning up their mess and to retrieve any meat they might have missed in the middle of the night!

My friends and I stood inside the cabin and watched in total amazement at their stupidity. After all, the "Fish Truck" was still visible, though parked just around the end of the cabin, and it was obvious that there was some ongoing activity inside. And yet, they failed to notice any of it! That is, until they heard the sound of the "glass man's" truck coming up the two-track leading back to "Trail's End."

Long story short? They ended up boxed in and awaiting the arrival of the conservation officers who had been summoned. Once the COs came in, the evidence stacked up rather quickly-- a bloody chainsaw with plenty of deer hair in the teeth, two rifles in their truck cab, bolt cutters, and more. The list of charges against them just kept building as their truck was searched and they were taken away in handcuffs.

The older I get, the less I understand about the need to "poach" rather than to "hunt." Or, perhaps, as waterfordcreek pointed out, "bad karma" just came calling a little more quickly than the poachers could have anticipated...

Man, I love a happy ending...
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  #144 (permalink)  
Old 10-29-2013, 05:28 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

As daylight was getting on toward the twilight hours, the Speaker of the House and I took a ride back to "Trail's End." I was there to see how the last of the "repairs detail" was coming along, and she was there to ensure that the cabin truly was "cleaned up." I'm guessing that she knows my "fishing cronies" and me well enough to realize that our approach to cleaning up a mess will never pass any "white glove test." The Speaker truly is a candidate for sainthood, given all that she puts up with...

As she put the "finishing touches" on the botched, but well-intentioned, "clean-up," the "repair crew" took their leave, satisfied that the new window panes were properly seated and sealed, the lock works replaced and the furniture all in upright positions.

Meanwhile, after adding another log or two to the fireplace, I lit the lamp at the desk of the late Montgomery Jackson and pulled from my pocket one volume of the collection of journals he'd penned about yours truly. The chapter in question was easily found, due to the dog-earred bent corner-- a bad habit of mine, but often a necessary one. And, over the next hour or so, I re-read the chapter on "Stages" for the fourth or fifth time.

You see, the late Montgomery Jackson had watched as I went through the first three stages of an angler, and then wrote of my emergence into the place that I am now... the last and perhaps best stage of them all-- Appreciation.

Stage 1, according to the late Montgomery Jackson, was the stage during which I often fished from dawn until dusk, not content until I'd covered a wide swath of water. He referred to it as the "Coming Home Exhausted" stage.

Stage 2 was my "Fish & Gear Collecting" stage, during which rods, reels and a virtual truckload of equipment came and went, all in hopes of finding that one rod/reel/fly combination that would allow me to catch copious amounts of trout with the mere flick of the wrist. It was, back then, a "numbers game," pure and simple, no matter if the subject was gear OR fish.

Stage 3 was what the late Montgomery Jackson wrote off as the "Anal Stage," in which only the best gear-- spelled "most expensive" --and the biggest fish in the river would satisfy the ol' urges. Rods and reels were traded or sold for the addition of the finest stuff available, and the only trout haunts frequented were those rumored to hold the largest fish. Not one of my finest phases in my maturation as a fly-fisherman, but a necessary one, according to the late Montgomery Jackson.

And, as I read his final observations of my so-called "stages," I again realized that his words are spot-on. The "influences of life" and my own time astream have brought me to the final phase-- the aforementioned "Appreciation" stage. I no longer desire or have to have the most, or even the best, rods or reels any longer. So long as the rod or reel is reliable and pleasing to my eye, I'm a happy angler.

My approach to measuring the quality of a trout by its size has changed as well. Nowadays, every fish is a gift of sorts, with as much pleasure to be found in a 9 or 10-inch brook trout as there is in a 26-inch "middle of the Hex hatch" brown trout. And, every hour astream is a God-send, as my longevity on this Earth continues to beat the odds...

Best of all... whenever I need to be reminded of such things, I need only reach for a small journal with the first page of a chapter dog-earred and ready to bring the late Montgomery Jackson's "voice" back to life...
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  #145 (permalink)  
Old 11-03-2013, 06:03 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Yesterday was one of those "splash and dash" sort of afternoons, at least from the weather-related point of view. One minute, the clouds quickly rolled in, a brief period of cold rain soon followed, and then the skies cleared and the sun took center stage once more. With temps hovering in the low 40's, it was the kind of day that I was glad that I'd grabbed the old barn coat of my grandfather's and put it on.

The sad news is that no one has designed a "barn coat" for my aging knees, and this morning, they both hurt like homemade sin. Too many trips up and down the ladder at "Trail's End," and having hit the 60 years of age mark in my life. But, at least, you know by the aches and pains that you're alive...

And, between the aching knees and the sorting of a box of books from the late Montgomery Jackson's library, I was again reminded of how we oft times forget about the passage of time, and how it tends to affect our perceptions of "tomorrow..."

You see, in my mind's eye, my inner-self still sees me as 30 years old, and having plenty of time to read all of the books that reside on my book-shelves or on my "have to purchase" list, and years to fish the rivers of my dreams. The reality is that I'm 60, not 30, there will always be aches and pains, and that I'd better start cracking a cover or two, if I intend to scratch some of these titles from my "reading bucket list."

The late Montgomery Jackson had a habit of placing a book marker in each of his books-- one marked "Read" and with a notation or two, and the other merely stating "To Be Read." As I've separated the box of books into piles reflecting their status, the books "to be read" are out-numbering the "Read" totals by about a 4 to 1 margin. It saddens me to know that he never had the pleasure of enjoying a great many of his books, as he did love to read...

As I attempt to get used to the time change here in northern Michigan, I've made a vow to myself to set aside an hour or two each day, just to read, wrap a new fly, or refurbish an old pipe or fly rod in need of repair. If "clarity" does, indeed, come with age, then it's clear that I've got some serious catching-up to do in the remaining time alloted yours truly, as I fully intend to pass from this Earth with few, if any, true regrets...

"Tomorrow truly is guaranteed to no one..."
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  #146 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2013, 06:16 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Last night's forecast called for three inches of snow, not an abnormality in northern Michigan at this time of year. And, so it came to pass, as a couple of inches of snow now covers the ground this morning. Despite it being in the mid-50's only a few days ago, they're calling for mid-30's today, thereby marking the "official" close of any "extended" trout fishing on my part.

The snow also brought with it a decision to be made-- whether or not to shutter the small cabin known as "Trail's End." Between the need to plow our way back in through drifted snow and the two-track's tendencies toward becoming small "mud bogs" along a stretch or two, closing the place up for the winter would seem like the smart bet. Then again, I've never been one to take the "sure thing..."

So, "Trail's End" will officially stay open and ready for use again throughout the winter. From a practical standpoint, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. On the other hand, its availability makes perfect sense, to my way of thinking. Some days, just knowing that "Trail's End" is there waiting for my next visit is enough, as it keeps alive the voices of my elders who once guided my every step astream.

The cabin known as "Trail's End" truly does hold that kind of magic...
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  #147 (permalink)  
Old 11-09-2013, 07:02 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Collectively, when pulled together into a single utterance, they are words that no one wants to hear-- "You have cancer, and you only have XX(fill in the XX's) months to live..." I've heard those words before, and I can tell you from experience that they strike fear into your heart, and a sense of anxiety that cuts you to your very core.

It's only natural to think of our lives as "endless tomorrows," especially early on in our younger years when the world seems a place of unimagined possibilities. Later, as we age, there comes a time/illness/situation when the rules change, and the realization hits home that everyone's time is measured in one way or another, no matter your particular lot or place in life.

In a journaled chapter read just yesterday, the late Montgomery Jackson confessed to "fishing a helluva lot of river in my time," after which he added, "and I'm damned glad I did..." Having given it a bit of thought over the last 16 or so hours, I've come to the conclusion that his "confession" was more a sound piece of "advice" as opposed to any sort of confessed "shortcoming."

That said, I'm starting a revamp of my own "bucket list" later today. Come 2014, my fly-fishing will still be a casual undertaking, but one that's going to be approached with fishing those sections of the river that I'd always put off until "tomorrow." While my own health is in a good place right now, I'm not foolish enough to take for granted whatever precious time remains.

If you found out that your allotment of hours astream was measured, what would be on your bucket list?
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  #148 (permalink)  
Old 11-11-2013, 12:19 PM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

For those of you who've been reading along in this thread-- and for those who know me well --you know that I've spent quite a few of my winter months teaching the tying classes for "my kids," a select group of kids battling/surviving cancer, much the same as I am.

Come Christmas Day this year, me and mine and a small group of friends and their families will give one of my longtime students the most traditional of Christmas Days. And, the festivities will take place at that most special of places-- "Trail's End."

The tree will be cut from the back section of the property, decorated accordingly, and dinner will be served at the "main table," a long wooden affair that has hosted its share of gatherings in years past. And, the gifts for Emily-- my student and a youngster I've spoken of before--and her family will be "fly-fishing/fly-tying" things wrought by hand, with a few "store-bought" items just to flush things out a bit.

It will be an old-style, down-home traditional sort of Christmas in the best of ways, the best sort of "gift" imaginable for a young girl who won't see Christmas 2014, and one who reminds me of another young girl known as Laramie-- our youngest daughter --who left us all well before her time...
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Last edited by hairwing530; 11-12-2013 at 05:19 AM.
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  #149 (permalink)  
Old 11-15-2013, 05:50 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

After another "scare" regarding a threat to my eyesight-- it's been "neutralized" by my great team of oncologists at U of M --plans for Emily's "special" Christmas are fully underway. The growing list of "hand-mades" for the occasion-- gifts that all will be made, refurbished or constructed completely by the hands of their individual craftsmen(or women) --will no doubt demand a tree of grand proportions. And, I have just the tree in mind no more than a few acres from the door of "Trail's End."

We're ramping up the gathering a bit by expanding the celebration to Christmas Eve Day and Christmas Day. In my mind, one of the best parts of Christmas rests in the anticipation that resides in the waning hours of Christmas Eve. That sort of questioning excitement is only one of the many gifts we all hope to give to Emily and her family, come the holiday season of December 25, 2013.

And, for me and mine, and my "fishing cronies" and their families, the two days will be a fitting tribute to a young girl who has blessed our lives during her stint as a member of my tying classes for the last three years. She again will join "my kids" for her fourth and last series of classes this year, as her prognosis is bleak, at best. According to the specialists who monitor her leukemia, she probably won't see Christmas, 2014. The disease has progressed beyond their intervention...

So, my little group intends to make this Christmas something truly special. And, befitting the importance of the occasion, Ms Emily will spend Christmas Eve beneath the comforting warmth of an old goose-down "feather-tick" that's been stored in a cedar chest for over 40 years. It was handmade for me by my great-grandmother and my grandmother before my birth, and it has traveled the entire length of my 60-year old road. I think it only right that it again lends its comfort, if only for the night in question.

As I write this, I'm beginning to believe that the late Montgomery Jackson left me the keys to "Trail's End" for special occasions such as this... and so many other "unique" moments in the years to come. God bless you, my old friend...
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  #150 (permalink)  
Old 11-21-2013, 05:46 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

The reading of the latest two journals from the pen of the late Montgomery Jackson has been tough sledding, to say the least. They cover four of the five years of my tumor-induced "blindness," and it's hard to relive that period of my life again. I lost my sight in 2004, and the first of what would be two daughters lost-- Lauren, at the hands of a drunk driver --died in 2007. They were dark days, and not just because of my sight loss...

"Personal baggage" can be one of those things that can easily pile on and accumulate, if a man allows it to do so. And, given the medical/personal challenges over the years, I've made every attempt to keep the "load" to a minimum-- sometimes with great success, while failing miserably at a few other points in my life. Sometimes, all we can do is hope to maintain some semblance of balance, and just keep swinging.

When I came to the end of the final pages of the late Montgomery Jackson's documenting of Year #4 of my blindness, it became even clearer that he was a man of his word and truly a unique and caring friend, the kind that comes along all too seldom these days. His words help to lift a little more of my "life load" and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that, like anything good in life, true friends really are something that can be savored for all time...
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