Tuesday, December 26, 2017

... and came the cold.

It's easy to feel inspired splitting wood when it's 25 below zero like it was this morning. I'd dropped a couple of trees out back just before Christmas and had them bucked up into firewood size blocks, ready to split. Christmas eve was a day for skiing before the real cold came, and fun it was. Christmas day was our first sub-zero day of the winter at 18 below and a day to spend indoors with family and food. This morning our daughter headed home to the big city and the post-Christmas calm settled in. A hungry wood stove has been cause for frequent trips to the wood shed, and a reminder to keep busy making next season's firewood. When it's too cold to do much else outdoors, chopping wood seems about right.

I was talking to some friends a few nights ago, over some good craft beer, about aging and eating. It was agreed that some aches and pains come along with the years and carrying around an accumulation of extra butter doesn't help things. A theory was presented: metabolism slows as we grow older because in a natural world where man had to hunt, gather, and grow his own food he naturally slowed down and became less efficient with age. Thus, as his ability to acquire sustenance decreased, so too did his need for it. Now days, of course, french fries and cheeseburgers are pretty easy to come by even for the slowest and weakest of us, so resistance – call it willpower – is our only hope of fitting into our waders next trout season. I'll admit willpower has been at a low point for me this holiday season, and the theory doesn't address the fact that back in that natural world of hunter-gatherer the life expectancy was what, 30?
By the time I had a few piles of wood split up I couldn't feel my fingers anymore and retreated for the house. After my hands thawed I tied up a couple of bobbing baitfish flies for springtime panfish (the bass and walleyes like 'em, too) and watched a video about fly fishing pike in Canada. Neat stuff. Then lunch.

 Leftover Christmas goodies – tasty ham, tangy sausage, sharp cheddar and smoked Gouda. PJ brought out some salty chips. And hearty bread. And wine. There must be some vegetables around here somewhere! In a defensive move to distance myself from food I bundled up and was soon out splitting wood again.

I don't put much stock in New Year's resolutions. Maybe I should.

Monday, December 11, 2017

tis the season

There's a little glass dish on my desk with a few egg flies in it. I tied them the other evening when I was thinking about steelhead fishing. They say egg flies are about the easiest pattern to tie and I won't argue, but mine are the worst I've seen. I don't get it, I know they're supposed to be round but half the time mine have a noticeable belt around the middle from the tying thread. Or I don't get the hook covered on the bottom side. I do have better luck with McFlyFoam, but I have several bags of yarn that I don't want to waste. I'm not the greatest fly tier, for sure, but I do manage some pretty decent flies for trout to muskies. These eggs have me be-jiggered.

I didn't put my fly rods away until deer season was over, and I was hesitant then. We had a good blanket of snow on the ground, the lakes were freezing over, and Ole Man Winter wasn't waiting until December. So the rods took their place in the can next to my desk and the reels, fly boxes, and other accoutrement found the bin marked “fly fishing” on the basement shelf. I recalled the fishing that took place throughout the year and couldn't help thinking there might have been more. I just don't want to see another year end, I suppose.
Sometimes I get a shudder pondering how many seasons and trips I have left in me. I'm not a doom and gloom sort of guy, but I've been around long enough to know that the number of years ahead are less than the number behind. I know I'm living a gift and hope I'm doing it well, but there are times I wonder.
Most of my steelhead have come on bugs; prince nymphs and pheasant tails with added rubber legs or something similar. Many of our steelies are taken on yarn egg patterns but I just haven't fished them much. Last fall I'd hooked two steelhead on my PT and was feeling pretty good standing in that north shore river. I moved on when an old-timer stepped into the river on the other side and after he caught fish after fish from the same run I'd just fished my partner walked down and asked what he was using. Yarn. Well, I'm gonna give it an honest try if I ever get one that looks right. The season is about four months off, so I've got some time to practice and plenty of material.

And it's Christmas time. Some love it and others don't. Some thrive on it and others hope to survive it. Christmas is getting easier as I get older. Gone are the hectic shopping trips between work schedules and 300 mile drives to get where we had to be. It doesn't last long, the music is fine and the decorations are up. Appreciate the reason for the season and each morning, before dawn, I sip coffee next to our lighted tree and listen to the silence. I hope it's as good for you, and wherever it finds you, Happy Holidays!