I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Vonnegut said that men who were on the battlefield at eleven that morning reported silence so deafening they were convinced it was the voice of God. A voice that said "enough".
Enough of what Siegfried Sassoon described as "faces trodden deeper in the mud". Enough of the new war machines...
Enough of trenches...
Just, enough. Time for parades on 5th Avenue and kisses and prayers and hugs...
War was made illegal in 1938. A year later it started again. Here, everything is fast and new. We mainly forget or ignore the old things. The old ways. Armistice Day was created to make sure we never forgot the very first World Soldiers. And the millions that died. Now, we merge them into the honor of more recent veterans, living and dead. And the old ones have faded in the effort. Other countries whose boundaries encompass the bloody soil have longer memories...
Shock someone. Wear a poppy today. Or a red ribbon. Be thankful for those first overseas veterans. And all the others who sacrificed after war became illegal. Try to hear God's voice.
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
I love fishing for trout with a fly rod. Every year I get one chance to do so which tests my admittedly modest skills. My favorite venue for this event is the Au Sable River in Michigan. There are numerous parts of the Au Sable and I stay at the fabled Gates Au Sable Lodge. Little rooms where you can walk out the back door, put on your waders and step into one of the most famous trout streams in America. I have been visiting Gates for years.
Last year I fell victim to the dreaded fishing skunk.....I caught nothing during my visit.
This year due to an unfortunate atmospheric event I was able to stay at Gates two weeks instead of the planned seven days. The weather was glorious, cold and clear. Trout here are very experienced prey and they are not easily fooled. That said, I managed to fool more than ever before using the classic English method of casting downstream and pulling a wet fly across the burbling current. Another treat was the presence of my great pally JP who usually comes up from southern Michigan to join the sport. It's the least he can do since he introduced me to this obsession years ago after we stopped being roommates in law school. JP is an actual fisherman, I only rely on dumb luck and my ability to read the water to guess where a trout may be hiding.
Before the shrieking starts I must declare that this water is highly regulated and it is illegal to possess trout. All trout we catch must be returned to the stream in good condition. On what is known as the Holy Waters they are VERY serious about such things. As am I.
Another thing I love about this area is the great food. They have classics like Pastys, the Cornish meat and potato pies, that with brown gravy are an outdoorsman's staple. They have other hearty dishes too and they use lots of local ingredients and LOTS of fresh fruit. One example comes from the final evening of the trip when I dined at the wonderful Gates restaurant and had a slice of maple cream pie with poached local pears on top. I can't describe how wonderful that dessert was. It even topped the fresh blueberry pie. And the multitude of doughnuts from the incredible local bakery.
I played golf one day to give the trout time to regroup and strategize how to make me a sporting failure the rest of my trip like last year. I played terribly on a really fine course called Forest Dunes but I had a superb steak dinner there to make up for it.
As is always the case, the last day of any adventure must arrive. JP had been required to return to work and I fished a couple of days after he left with no success. The day before my departure dawned bright clear and crisp. An autumn day worthy of any of the legendary trout fishermen. And me too. I admit to being pretty tired and I almost didn't return to the stream that day. But I wanted to catch just one more trout before returning to the workaday world of well.........work......and weather related damage. I chose one of my very favorite streams. A place where I have always caught at least one trout.
This particular spot requires you to park on the shoulder of a two lane paved road and then walk down some rustic steps to the stream. As I parked I groaned seeing that another vehicle was already parked there. I did not want to share my last stream visit of the year with anyone. In the event, the driver of the vehicle was a very nice fellow who was merely standing on the bridge looking at the water. As often happens we struck up a conversation. During which I found another sporting brother. He told me he had been married many years and has lost his wife only four months ago. Hearing this I glanced at him. And I saw myself three and a half years ago. By myself. Adrift. Trying to figure out who the hell I was supposed to be. Two middle aged widowers standing on a bridge staring at one of the finest trout streams you will ever see. Suddenly not knowing what to say. He ventured "its amazing how a great wife is a.........well a........a rudder for your life...a balance." Yes. I was blessed that way too.
It is not a shocking revelation that most men don't share feelings or intimate thoughts very well. But in the freemasonry of lost love it becomes a bit easier. I ventured the thought that I felt just as rudderless and cast adrift three years ago as he does now and that despite that feeling it was a time of exciting opportunity to try and find out who we are now. In the time after that time.
We swapped information and promised to keep in touch. Then I made my way to the stream and tried my luck. I worked carefully downstream and finally caught my one last trout of the trip. But it was a little bit less than before. Suddenly my legs felt all of their sixty-one years after two weeks in moving currents. After releasing the trout I sat on a big log in the stream. And I stared at the running waters. I heard some geese flying overhead calling for their leader to take them to Florida. I sat there and I thought of her. A lot. A lot more than in some time. And I smelled wood smoke. And I looked upward and a torrent of red and gold leaves blew down over me. She was happy about the trout. I struggled up from the log and made my way back to the car.