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  #81 (permalink)  
Old 06-21-2013, 06:11 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Well, the "deed"-- my surgery --is done and over, with my surgeons deeming it an unqualified success. They removed all remnants of brain tumor #2, including the one piece that threatened to rob me of my eyesight again. And, as I write this, I'm at last back home and in comfortable surroundings again...

Earlier on in this thread, I wrote about "serenity" and finding a taste of it in an old chair perched upon the wooden porch of "Trail's End." Enroute home last night, and against her better judgment, The Speaker of the House allowed me a quick "detour," if you will, one that led straight up the two-track to the cabin known as "Trail's End." Twilight was approaching, and I needed another dose of that serenity after far too many days confined to a hospital.

Settling into one of the porch chairs, the effect was both immediate and comforting, all at once. Amidst that which is "Trail's End" and the coming twilight hour, I "watched" the river slow its run at the horseshoe bend, all while the growing shadows made by a setting sun changed the landscape with every passing minute. Best of all, I watched it through eyes whose future has been assured in the years to come.

And, in those closing moments to another day on the river, I realized moreso than ever that...

Comfort comes in many forms, and often, in the simplest of things...

Serenity truly can be found within the comfort of an old porch chair with a new "warranty" on one's eyesight and the sweet sounds of "river music" playing just down the hill...

Magic does exist, if one is open to it and looks in all of the right places...

Regret really isn't an issue when one's health is concerned, even when sidelined by doctor's orders and despite the onset of the "Hex Hatch." There will be another hatch next year...

Inner peace comes from having a great and supportive family, and a host of good friends who double as "fishing cronies..."

True serenity can be found in the realization that the Good Lord has got my back!! How else can one explain my longevity on this earth?

Last night, I also grasped one other fact of life as we were leaving "Trail's End," and that is the premise that with each visit to the old cabin, I again "meet myself," only with a little different take on who I am, and who it is I will become...
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:16 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Jerry,

I am glad to hear of a successful surgery. Godspeed.


ray
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Old 06-23-2013, 06:12 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Last night, during one of my allowed "hiatus hours" from my cyber-leash, I pulled down the next installment of the late Montgomery Jackson's journaling of the life and times of a man-- me --during years now growing more distant by the minute. During the two years covered by this journal, I had my share of "hit or miss" moments of a decided lack of the virtue known as "patience." This is especially true, even today, when recovery from a hospital stay limits my activity levels.

So, this morning, I took to the trail along the river, leaving a note as to my departure, destination and estimated time of arrival back at home, so as not to worry The Speaker of the House-- aka my wife, Debbi. The path atop the river bank is hard against the water's edge, and never once has it failed to soothe me when a life spent battling cancer and other matters start to overload an already "cluttered" mind.

One of the best aspects to the morning's wanderings just as the first light was breaking in the East was that I could watch the river come alive with eyes whose sighted future is now more guaranteed than they were two week ago. The doctors have done their work, and now the healing part is up to me. It's a process of "patience," and that's still one virtue I've yet to master.

As I reached my usual end point in my path wanderings, the sound of a few splashy rises in the river caught my attention. The last of the evening's Hex hatch was just tailing off, and the trout were "cherry-picking" what few bugs were left on the water. It's a rare thing to be able to watch the last takes in the coming daylight rather than in the sheer dark of night.

So, I did as I'd been long taught to do... I sat and watched the closing acts of the "river show." As I rose to leave, I was reminded of how the late Montgomery Jackson had been akin to my earliest teachers-- my grandfather and his fishing partner, "Doc" Holship. They all were "river watchers" who studied their pools and were patient to a fault. The latest journal had brought to the forefront the lessons of patience, and maybe now, I'm finally growing a little of my own brand of "patience."

Making the turn into the two-track back to the house, it also dawned on me how much of a gift that the little cabin known as "Trail's End" truly is, and how blessed I am to have the supplemental histories that are the late Montgomery Jackson's journaling of the "Lad" that my elders frequently called "the kid" or "Buck." The cabin has given me a sense of purpose in returning the place to its former glory, and the journals have given me food for thought, and a base from which to work on refurbishing and building a better "me..."

As I've often said, even at age 60, I remain a "work in progress..."
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Last edited by hairwing530; 06-23-2013 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 06-23-2013, 09:23 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Jerry: It's great to see you back online and given a good bill of health from the doctors, now for some healing time as you stated. Tell Jesse thanks for keeping me posted on the progress at the hospital......much appreciated, my friend!
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Old 06-24-2013, 05:05 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

To look at them resting there amidst rows of the flies that are more in keeping with today's tying, you'd think them an odd lot. Brightly colored with deep red, yellow or iron-blue quill-wings, oversized hackle collars and fine bodies wrapped tight with a tinseled material, they would appear to be little more than mere ornamentation in any fly box. In truth, however, they are fish-catching tributes to a time long past, decades-old acknowledgements of how the elder fishermen of my youth preferred to carry a few wet flies in their boxes, placing them hard against the dry flies that were fancied back then.

Collectively, the flies are what remain of "The Community Jar" of "Trail's End," a tall glass "cookie jar" that was prevalent when I was a much younger man. With its wide-mouthed opening-- all the better for quick "cookie grabs" --and a lid to match, the jar was a perfect storage unit for the "extras" tied during the "post-fishing" tying sessions, or those random feathered works picked up during trips to here and there. To a fly, the unique lot is nothing less than a cross-section of fly fishing as it once was done, and an "in-hand" look at the evolution of the sport and its feathered works of art over the decades...

And now, they have a place of prominence on my tying desk as the sorting process begins. For me, it will be the best kind of "busy work" imaginable, even with my medical restrictions regarding eye-intensive work over the next few weeks. Separating and inspecting each one will gift me with the chance to gain a little more perspective on the history of a sport I dearly love-- fly fishing --and on the art of wrapping a hook via the tying approaches that now find favor among the few rather than the many.

More than that, however, the unloading of the old shotshell carrier that once belonged to the late Montgomery Jackson will further keep alive the times, the places and the memories that are best served up by being very close at hand...
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Old 06-26-2013, 06:29 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

The sorting process of the flies from "The Community Jar" continued this morning, despite my limitations to an hour here, an hour there sort of schedule. Separating the lots into individual bins has been good "therapy" for yours truly, a pleasant distraction from the eye drops, the doses of an optical salve to speed the healing, and the fact that the limitations on my choice of "activities" are being strictly enforced by The Speaker of the House-- my wife, Debbi --and her "back-up"-- my chief oncologist. Thankfully, Jesse is fishing/camping in the Upper Peninsula for two weeks, or I'd be overwhelmed with "female concern..."

As I inspect each fly before slotting it into its appropriate holding bin, I'm amazed by how the flies were tied. Back in the day, so to speak, there was much more of a reliance on quill wings of almost every description-- upright,
"side wings(wings that run parallel to the hook shank)," and a great many quills that sweep back over the main body of the fly.

More than that, the colors used in some instances are what one might call "bright," and the collar hackling is huge by today's standard. There's little doubt that the flies do look "buggier" than most I've been privy to, and with the liberal usage of herl, foams and even a few bodies that feel almost cast in metal, the sorting continues to be both an eye-opener and a learning experience. Many of them have inspired some adaptations that I intend to try out when my "leash" comes off and I can return to "active duty" once again.

If there is one fly that has stood out from the rest, it would have to be a different take on the old Royal Coachman. Rather than the standard crimson body tied between the herl ends, these have a yellow body tied in its place. As I looked it over this morning, it drove home the point that much of the tying style back then was done by both observation-- what the fish were taking --and an approach that the late Montgomery Jackson called "scrapping" in his own journal-- taking "scraps" of whatever was handy and figuring out a way to incorporate it into a productive fly.

"Scrapping" was/is a direct reflection on the fact that the "Trail's End Gang" was both resourcefull and unafraid of innovation. Plainly put, they tied what worked until the flies didn't work any longer, and then their ties were adapted to the conditions as they saw fit. Come my release from "the leash," I intend to try and incorporate a little "scrapping" of my own into the next batch of flies to come from my vise, an homage, if you will, to those who've gone before me, as well as a "hoped-for" inspiration for those who will follow in the footsteps of my elders and me...
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Old 06-28-2013, 05:11 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Recently, I was asked to describe the late Montgomery Jackson in much greater detail. And, I've given a great deal of thought to that inquiry as of late, as I believe that all due considerations must be made before making the formal introductions. I only hope that the following "picture" of the man brings to life all that the late Montgomery Jackson was over the course of our many years as friends...

If measured on a purely physical scale, one would have judged Montgomery Jackson to have been "lean and weathered" in his later years. At 5'10" in vertical rise with a bearded face that bore the markings of many hours spent outdoors, his weight never seemed to change much, despite his love of all things deemed "bad" for a man-- good steaks, sweet-cream butters and sweeter pastries, fine single-malt scotch, and an ongoing affair with pipes and cigars. He scorned the advice of most physicians, choosing instead to live his life as he saw fit, and enjoy those things that gave him the most pleasure.

Philosophically, the late Montgomery Jackson was the best kind of friend to have-- afield, astream and in life. He forever was putting "the Lad(me)" into the best trout lies, or moving me into the best positions for a fair shot at the flush of a ruffed grouse or woodcock whenever his dogs would be hard on point. He approached our friendship as a father would a son, and in the same manner in which he lived his life-- full on and with no regrets.

Beyond all that, however, was the generosity of the late Montgomery Jackson. Beyond all "fiscal" considerations, he was generous to a fault with his knowledge, his wisdom, and in sharing those things that were most special to him-- a favorite stretch of river or a secret covert that always held a bird or two. He was the ultimate "teacher" of all things outdoors, a perfect "grad-courses" complement to my earlier lessons learned at the side of my grandfather and "Doc" Holship. An aspiring "sportsman" couldn't have asked for a better group of instructors...

Not long before the passing of the late Montgomery Jackson, I had a "portrait in the stream" sort of painting done of the man, hoping to have it adorn the walls of "Trail's End" before he took his leave. He died a few weeks before the painting was finished, moving on to his place among those who had pre-deceased him.

Today, the painting hangs not far from where I now sit, to remind me of both the man and all that he stood for. Seeing it there on the wall and pausing for a moment before each and every outing, the portrait carries with it the kind of memories that I like to carry with me whenever I head outdoors. Without these "remember when's," my time astream or afield would lose something very near and dear to my aging heart-- the gift of recalling a life lived well...
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Last edited by hairwing530; 06-30-2013 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 07-04-2013, 06:26 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Well, the "cyber-leash" has been removed-- officially --and I'm good to go, which means I'll have to pick up more river-rock "worry stones" for the Speaker of the House and daughter Jesse. Like the late Montgomery Jackson and those before him, the two ladies both are fully aware of my decided lean toward seeking out what lies around the next bend, or wandering unfamiliar territory, just to know what's there. It's just a part of my early years and how they influenced the man I grew up to be...

They needn't be concerned, however. As per my oncologist's instructions in offering me an "early release," I will throttle things back... just a bit. Again, I give due credit to the writings of the late Montgomery Jackson. This morning's readings of his lifelong work implored me to savor the best of it all-- family, friends, time astream and the little cabin known as "Trail's End." It was his way of reminding me of the ol' "take time to stop and smell the roses" philosophy that's never been my strong suit.

So, starting today and hopefully in whatever days are yet to come, I will slow my pace at every turn, look for those small things that sometimes escape our notice and approach my fly-wrangling like there's only today and the here and now, never assuming that tomorrow is a given. The men who molded my love of the outdoors and all things "fly" knew this long before I came to the realization, and I can do no less than to honor their memory by adherring to this line of thought.

Here's to family and friends, an hour or two spent with the gentle push of river currents and the pull of a good fish, and those who went before me and cut a path-- astream and afield --to that most special of places-- the place known as "Trail's End..."
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Old 07-06-2013, 05:49 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

What you will see below continues my theme of introduction, if you will, to the man known as the late Montgomery Jackson and the many gifts in life he gave to me so freely. This portrait was done from a photo that showcased our last trip together to the Upper Peninsula, when Montgomery was still healthy enough to "cut the mustard and bust some brush," as he was fond of saying...

Sorry about the photo quality, but textured original artwork raises havoc with the auto-focus capabilities...

Click the image to open in full size.
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Last edited by hairwing530; 07-08-2013 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 07-08-2013, 12:45 PM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

It was hot yesterday, that windless, humid sort of stifling heat that makes it easy to put off lawn duties for another day, yet pushes aside any thoughts of a little "river walking," thereby keeping the fly rods resting in the rod rack. And so, for one of the few times in my life, I opted to do the smart thing and enjoy the invention known as "air conditioning."

I settled at the tying desk, hoping to clean up some of the "busy work" that had been awaiting my release from the restrictions put in place by my recent surgery. After the mandatory "pile shuffling," I spread out some hooks, hackle, dubbing and thread on the desktop, and put the vise in place for a Sunday afternoon tying session.

After seating the first hook and making my first base wraps, I found myself in an unfamiliar place-- I had "tyer's block," the equivalent of writer's block. For the life of me, I couldn't honestly decide with any certainty exactly what I wanted to tie. Had I recently been "binge tying," I could have understood the indecision. But, not yesterday... not when I could finally tie again without limitations.

So, I did what I thought might break the stalemate-- I began the search for "the box"-- an aging large DeWitt box containing some of the collective works that comprise a bit of the root elements, if you will, of the "elders" who started me on this path known as fly fishing and fly tying, and a collection that I hoped would inspire.

"The box" was where it has long been-- second drawer down, left side of the desk. As I opened the top, I immediately took note of how the flies of my grandfather, "Doc" Holship and Montgomery Jackson-- the men who "schooled" me and now fish waters far distant from where I sit --broke things down into two basic elemental differences-- wets and dry flies. I also was struck by how different their tying styles were back then when compared to the flies I tie today.

To hold their myriad flies in hand, one might think the hackle collars too large, and the wing tips too long on some of the more muted-toned dries. And, as for the wets? Well, let's just say that you'd have little trouble detecting these flies, even when fully submerged a foot or two below the surface. But, to a fly, they all caught fish, and to my "elders," that was enough. (To be continued...)
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Last edited by hairwing530; 07-08-2013 at 01:48 PM.
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