Tuesday, July 17, 2018

As I get older

I came across a photo op yesterday. A poison ivy leaf had fallen onto a bed of moss in the barnyard.
The recent rains had turned the dull green moss into little pieces of velvet carpet under the oak and hickory.

The poison ivy leads the pack in color. They start mid-summer with a few leaves get a headstart turning crimson before the others follow in September and October.  

Mother Nature's ebb and flow are easy to overlook.  It wasn't until my 5th decade that I began to notice things that had long escaped me. 

I'm looking forward to this improving insight as I get older.



Monday, July 16, 2018

Fly Fishing Fever ~ my column from Sunday's paper

I caught a bug when I was in Telluride, Colorado several years ago. It’s rarely fatal, but I’ve found it’s incurable. Professionals call it “fly fishing fever.” 
Jilda and I were surprised when our friend Wes and his wife Deidra asked us to spend the first week of July in the Mountains. But it was hotter than Satan’s sauna here in Empire, and we both feared that if we didn’t get away, we’d melt like a candle on asphalt in August. 
So, when our friend offered us free room and board for a week, we jumped at the chance. I wasn’t sure what to pack for the trip, but I put long-sleeved shirts, and blue jeans in my bag. 
Soon, we were winging our way over Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Kansas before touching down in Denver. From there we took a crop duster to Durango, Co and a shuttle picked us up at the airport and drove us the last few hours to the resort.
The mountain air was thin but much cooler. It made me feel taller. 
Our friends had several things on the agenda for the week. The next day was the 4th of July. We ate ourselves silly, watched a parade, and that evening we went to a fireworks show in the park. 
Watching the fireworks explode against a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains is a sight I will never forget. While standing there in the park, it started snowing. It was only a few flurries, but enough for me to catch flakes on my tongue. 
The next morning, Jilda, Deidra, and their girls headed to the spa while Wes and I headed for the water. He’d hired a local fly-fishing guide to take us fishing. It was cool that morning. We stood on the
water’s edge listening to the guide’s safety briefing. My breath came out in clouds. As I looked around at the water, and the mountains in the distance, I thought to myself, “I could get used to this.”
I thought I knew how to use a flyrod, but I spent the first half hour untangling my line and fetching flies from nearby bushes. 
There’s an art to casting a lure which weighs less than a sneeze. It took a while to get the hang of it, but I soon fell into the rhythm. After a few hours, I could put a fly almost anywhere I wanted in the range of my fly line. 
The fish were a little slow to come to the fly, but as I’ve said before, fly fishing is not about the fish. I got several strikes, but my timing was wrong when I tried setting the tiny hook. I learned that there’s an art to that too. 
We ate a sack lunch as we changed locations. Coming to an old farm, we parked near a pond fed by a cold mountain stream. The first cast, I caught a rainbow trout. It wasn’t a big fish, but in retrospect, I realize that’s where I caught the “fly fishing fever.” 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sadness at the Forks

 I took this picture on June 9. As always, I pulled in one evening after I finished an interview in Birmingham. The guys were sitting there shooting the bull with fishermen as they came into the loading ramp after a day of fishing.

I sat with them for a long while watching the water. The mallards that took up residence here squawked around looking for bits of food or bait discarded by the incoming boats. Even with the distant drone of outboard motors heading in, it's peaceful at the Forks.

When I left I told them I wanted to interview each of them the next time I came down for a story. As always I got some serious responses and a boatload of grief :) I love those guys.

Then one day last week, Jilda was reading the obits and exclaimed Kenneth Suchey died! I had her read it again and then read it for myself. It was true. One of my buddies at the Fork had died.

When I talked to Leo, who is the unofficial mayor, he told me the story. He said that Kenneth started having problems breathing a few weeks. ago.  He went to the doctor and learned that he had lung cancer. One week later, he died.

I'd known Kenneth for most of my life. I saw him pitch in a semi-professional baseball game when I was in junior high school. It was a playoff game. That night the batters could not have hit his pitches had they used a boat paddle. He was in the zone.

He was a kind-hearted man who was quick to smile and slow to anger.

I haven't had the heart to stop at the Forks in the evening since.

Kenneth is second from the right in the picture below. He will be missed.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Kayak race

I was out early this morning. The Sipsey Heritage Commission held their 2nd Annual Kayak on the Sipsey race. I told the editor I don't normally work on Saturdays, but this is my place.

A few hundred feet north of where I took this picture is where I fly fish. The river winds 12 miles through unmolested land.

When I arrived, I took pictures of the kayakers getting ready for the race. There was a VW bus there that had been converted into a camper. Apparently, at least one boater didn't want to be late.

I shot about 50 pictures for the paper. I think they are putting together a picture page for tomorrow but I'm not sure. I'll know along with everyone else when I open my paper as I sip coffee.

The winner stood and used the kayak as a paddleboard. He shot out from under the bridge, which was the starting point, and he never looked back. He did 12 miles in about an hour and 45 minutes. This wasn't his first kayak rodeo.

The temps were sweltering, but the water was 52 degrees. Standing next to it felt as if I were standing in front of an air conditioner.

Below is a photograph I shot from the bridge over the water.  It was a beautiful thing to behold.



Friday, July 13, 2018

Somewhere where it's cooler

It was hot enough to bake a biscuit in the dash pocket of my truck today. Jilda works at a place where they have people coming in from other parts of the country. When these visitors come in the spring or autumn, they fall in love with the area. 

The ones that stay until July and August usually say, "How the hell can you people live here??????"

We take it one day at a time. We exercise early before the sun comes up and we take it easy when the temp spikes after lunch.

Tonight as I was looking for a picture to post, I came across this one that Jilda took of me a few years ago when we were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in October. 

The first day the sun was out and we woke up the next day to snow. I would never wish my life away, but looking at this picture makes me think we should summer somewhere where it's cooler.



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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lunar Eclipse

There's a lunar eclipse in our future. Some folks are non-chalant about this, but Jilda and I celebrate celestual events.

We prepared for the last solar eclipse weeks in advance. We bought special glasses and had an eclipse celebration. Our great nephew Jordan was here to experience it with us.

We've instilled the excitement of these events in him and he's excited about the upcoming eclipse too.

I now have a much better camera than I had the last time so I hope to capture some pictures to share.

If you live in much of Europe, much of Asia, Australia, Africa, South in North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and Antarctica could see at least part of the eclipse.

I think we'll crank up the firepit and do s'mores while we enjoy the show. Do they make lunar eclipse glasses?

This is not an eclipse but it's the only picture I'd taken that I  could find of a full moon. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A place of honor

Ol' Hook has made every step I've made today. I'm not sure why some days he doesn't want to be in the same zip code and other days he wants on my lap. All 90 pounds of him. Today he's been a lap dog.

I hauled my computer bag out to the screen porch after coffee. Actually, I took my last cup with me as I wrote my column for Sunday's paper. Hook had been snoozing on his bed by the front windows, but when he realized I was no longer on the couch, he came in pursuit.

The door was closed to keep the bought air from escaping, but he started barking for me to let him out. He is persistant. I could ignore him for a while, but I've learned that he will not stop.

The ceiling fan silently whurred overhead, which made it comfortable for me, but it was warm for him. He found a spot and laid down.

I stood up and stretched when I finished the column. He must have sensed the movement because he stood, stretched, and sat down leaning against my leg. His behavior reminded me of Ol' Buddy.

If you've followed my blog for a while, I've written about Ol' Buddy before. He was my sidekick for years before developing cancer. Once afflicted, he lasted less than a month. It broke my heart when I lost him. I have this picture of him in my office.

One day, Ol' Hook will hold a place of honor in my office too.


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