August 14, 2009

Fishing Trip

"Nobody knows who's real and who's fakin..."
Deep Purple - Fireball 1971
My mind wanders again...
Staring out the window into the coolness of a breezy mid-August morning, I can see, and feel it. There is a brisk undertone now, to the beginnings of the days. The angle of the sun, changing so surreptitiously with each passing, now suddenly casts itself across the hills to my right in an almost wintry fashion. The impact of that realization sends a shiver through me almost as quickly as I smile, knowing that, even though I am witness to this every year, it's a harsh way to be reminded that as aware of the passage of time as I like to think I have become, I am still really not.
"No one came from miles around and said, who's he...?"
In 1971, Deep Purple released the Fireball album. One of my most beloved musical talismans, they now stride maniacally through "No One Came" at low volume as I slip another blue-winged olive out of the vise. I understand about allegiances and loyalties. And I respect passion. Passion for what it is that is important to an individual, or, in this case, to a group of musicians. And that's partially why I still know every word of every song from not only this masterpiece, but from nearly all of their recorded history, save for a brief period in the mid-80s where Ian had left the band and Jon had discovered synthesizers. Maybe that's why he left, but that's neither here nor then. All I know is that the music and lyrics they created are now to me as they were then. Acutely, intensely, everlastingly right on. For god's sake, given my sets of experiences, no other music could have possibly struck so deeply into the heart of a child of the late 60s who cared less about peace and love and more about staying up all night blasted out his gourd wondering about the machinations of the cosmos! Deep Purple were my inspiration, my way. And forever will they remain deeply embedded in the flesh and blood of my being.
I clamp a #16 into the vise. Another olive. Experience tells me that no matter how many I tie, it will not be enough, unless... yeah, there's always the caveat.
6 more days.

August 12, 2009

"I suspect that nothing is idyllic except in retrospect."
Jim Harrison, Off To The Side -
I should be tying flies. A week and a day must somehow come to pass before my son and I set out for the Elk. Seems like it's been forever just getting this close to being at hand, noting the events of the past several weeks, but, quite possibly those same events are largely responsible for the planning of this trip.
At least that's what the romantic in me whispers.
Earlier this morning, as I whip finished another Adams, it occurred to me just how fragile our lives, and thus our relationships with those we hold especially close, really are. How much those inner kinetics are influenced by the timely mechanics of living and dying! Maybe my father, in his passing, now has a ringside seat for all the individual little dramas that we as family members are experiencing as we now learn to live and die without his immediate presence. Although, I suspect he probably had a better view of all this than I ever gave him credit for having while he was still here.
A few days before his memorial service, I had an odd experience of sorts. Not terribly odd, but out from the realm of my usuality enough to cause in me, to this point, several moments of retrospect whereby I re-run that afternoon past, stilll amazed that it indeed happened in just this way.
I was sitting out on the deck where I currently reside, having taken a break from my daily ritual of cleaning fly lines and mending leaders, my trusty pen and pad close in case I was struck by sudden inspiration. I remember wondering how many cars I must watch travel by each day on the arterial as I sit there, and in a sense how calming this activity is, most certainly because I go next to nowhere each day except to the river and that's early in the morning and if I had to go anywhere now I wouldn't because look at all that damned traffic...
... and I sort of came to, then, pen in hand, and there in my lap was the notepad. And on the page was a poem I'd written. To my dad.
I put my fingers in your hand while you laid there
struggling to breathe,
and fought back tears
while I talked about flies, and fish,
and every now and then
your eyes would nearly flutter open
and I swear I could feel you squeeze
my hand.
I know only a little more now
than I knew then, dad,
as I watched you there, dying,
but what it is that I now know
is that I miss you
more, so much more,
than I thought I ever would.
We did fish together,
not often,
but we did,
and I promise to never forget.
And, when I wade into my river,
I know you'll be close by,
waiting to hear how I've done.
There it was. I have now, nor did I then as I first looked at it, no memory of putting it on paper. It made me cry a little. Not so much that it was so eloquent, because I'd have done better in that had I taken my usual inordinate amount of time to get it that way, but because it so succinctly put into words the sum of our relationship. Not only that, but it will also serve as a reminder as to the real depth of what we had as father and son.
And so soon my son and I will journey north to the Elk. We will camp and fish, and while we are there, together, we will make memories. Each of us will take with us that which is deemed priceless. For me, it will all be just that. Priceless. For as I sit here, now, writing this, I have come to understand what years gone by, what aging, and mostly what the irresistible passage of time really mean to me. It's not all bad. In fact, in more ways than I have yet come too understand, it is remarkable. I hope that my son will at some point experience the same kind of slow epiphany that I have come to, in his terms. It will, as it has for me, make the life yet to be lived that much sweeter.

August 11, 2009


"... and if the fog continues to lift,
I may be able to see myself..."
(mine again)

Courting minor disaster
can be a full-time job.
Perks are rare
benevolence is there
but only in the eyes
so acutely dissecting
what it is we failed
to reference.
In deference to dismay
let it fall passively
on a Thursday,
preferably after noon
as I seldom see
the advantage
of tears
earlier in the week.

August 7, 2009

seeing around corners

"The reflection isn't meant for everyone..."
(one of mine)
I'm getting so much better that I scare myself. Seriously. In fact, I'm rapidly attaining (in my own mind) a place of almost legendary status.
And, of course, my previous statements beg the question, "What the hell are you referring to, Steve, specifically?"
First, let me set it all up for you who shall (at some point in your lifetimes) either read this, or be subjected to similar events and experiences, or both. That might help shed some extra light on the self-observation above. Keep in mind, however, that none of this may even take a place of relevance in your lives (as you know them), but it may aid you in understanding the title for this piece.
It's about people. More to the point, it concerns certain people. And these 'certain' people happen to be relatives. We can't choose who our family members will be, and damned if some of them aren't the ugliest (inside) people we will ever have to interact with on even an occasional basis. If they had just the slightest modicum of common sense, I'd be shocked, no, horrified, because then I'd wonder why it is they do and say the things they do. Maybe I should feel sorry for them, but I don't think so. They've gone too far through their lives, and had dealings with too many other people not to have had cause to think about their actions somewhere, somehow, along the way.
I have an uncle on my my mother's side. He's well-educated, well-traveled, married into a very wealthy, influential east coast family, and has, from my meetings with them, very nice, agreeable, respectful children.
But, he's an asshole. Excuse my choice of nounage, or don't, because he really fits the term to a 'T'.
In addition to his extensive education, travels, high-falutin' friends, and east coast connections, he's an arrogant elitist, and a drunk one at that.
When someone like that uses a special occasion like my father's memorial service reception as an excuse to get stupid drunk, it gets my attention. And, when this 'gentleman' gets so inebriated that he loses all respect for others, namely my son, then he's really stepped over the line, and I take back every ounce of respect I ever had for him. It's made me wonder just how much respect he's ever really had for anyone other than those like-minded fools like himself. He's nothing more, I see now, than a frustrated old drunk. In fact, it's hard to remember a time when I've seen or had to deal with anyone who lacked more character. He's a character all right, but his 'character' to me now resides in the bottom of a bottle.
Why am I legendary? I am because I managed to not only dodge the wine he threw around as he so graphically gestured while raving at me about what I do or don't do, but I also then grabbed his arm, took him aside, and told him, to his face, that I wasn't going to talk to him while he was so messed up. And then I walked away. Well, apparently, he wasn't finished, because later on, at my mother's house, he started it up all over again, this time with my son, who had, up until this happened, a genuine interest in meeting and getting to know him.
I will never forget how distraught, frustrated, and angry he made my son. Never. And Aaron has more going for him than my uncle will ever dream of having. He has only his little life, his sad, empty, frustrating life.

August 6, 2009


Bona Fides are a threatened specie (catcalls from the cheap seats...).
In A PERFECT WORLD, my cast turns over beautifully and drops, at full extension, the battered Adams squarely in the path of the mouth of a very large Brown that's been feeding, like clockwork over there, just shy of a hydraulic hell (I'm going to do my damndest to avoid) for the past three, or four minutes...
Well, my cast turns over beautifully and drops, at full extension, the battered Adams squarely in the middle of that hydraulic hell (I was going to do my damndest to avoid), and now all I can do is watch helplessly as this hydraulic hell makes a macrame' project out of what had started with such great possibilities. I probably had a good shot at fooling that Brown. At least that's what I like to think, like now, after I've botched some part of the process involved with getting the fly delivered to the proper spot.
It's`all about just that. Probability. The probability that I'm going to fool that fish; the probability that this cast will deliver this fly to the spot that will fool that fish, or the overwhelming probability that I am indeed only fooling myself into thinking there is any probability ...
... hardly matters as I hurriedly strip back 70-odd feet or so of fly line to give it another shot because he's still there, still feeding, and there's a good chance that this cast will turn over beautifully and drop, at full extension, my battered Adams...