The Man Who Planted Trees

Posted 2017/11/11 by memdecoeur
Categories: Events, Guideposts

Tags: , , , , , , ,

One of the most poignant stories to provide and answer to the oft asked question, “What can one person do?”, when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds agains them, is the story of Elzeard Bouffier.  The story is called, “The Man Who Planted Trees“.   

It is a story about the efforts of one man, who set out to restore a destroyed forest that he loved so well before the destruction of World War 1 France.  

The trials and difficulties. The shear joy of the challenge. The tenacity to keep going. The vision of what could be, overcoming the odds and despair of the moment. So many lessons we can all learn from.

Read this amazing story.  Enjoy it. Meditate on it.  Mull it around as you go through each day, encountering your own personal difficulties – and bearing those of others you know well or at a glancing blow.  

Then determine to reach down, deep within your own Memdecoeur and  do what you can to an Elzeard Bouffier in the lives of others.

Best success and may YOUR Oaks grow mighty and strong in the replenishment of your landscape.



Refracted Life

Posted 2012/10/16 by memdecoeur
Categories: Refracted Life

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


… A Journal of Change: Refracted Life

Just as a PRISM refracts light -cleanly separating the previously ‘white-light’ into the magnificent – and clearly obvious- variety of colors we know as the SPECTRUM.

LIFE is also refracted – separated into a ‘spectrum-of-sorts’. This spectrum – that constantly runs together due to the hectic pace of today’s life – is constructed of the TIMES, PLACES and PEOPLE that pass through our life.

The PRISM engaged in the separating … is called CHANGE.

Until light passes through a prism, we don’t really know the variety and wonder of the various parts that make up light. In the same way, we live most of our life with little true knowledge of the variety that makes up our life; the What we can be moment. We live life on a day-to-day basis, mostly in a blur. Most of the time we’re glad to just get through it at all. Little time is made available for closely examining its various parts.

Now-and-then, we get refracted.

As a result, the refraction’s [separations of living reality from our hectic manifestation of prejudiced perception] begin to reveal the previously hidden elements of life and enable us opportunity for a glimpse into how our refracted life, reflects upon others.

It is Change – in our lives – that acts as our agent of vision. It is Change that brings clarity. It provides us a narrow glimpse of the variety of life; what it is; and the power the reflections produced have in the lives of other people.

It is the refraction of life that shows us the rainbow of possibilities.

Words of Endearment…

Posted 2012/10/16 by memdecoeur
Categories: Milemarkers

Tags: , , , , , ,
WORDS… it is said, have launched ships, made and brought down nations and have inspired all, from kings to the common man. They are the currency of communication. As the old saw says, “Clothes make the man.”, similarly words make the character of any person. For how we speak is more important that what we speak. Because what we speak is constructed of the How.

In my life words are a most important commodity. They are, after all one part of my biotope of creativity. I do enjoy creating imagery with the combination of words.  Thus, there are sources of words which are especially important … even dear to me.

My family is a source of such words.  My wife is my dearest friend and most invested colleague in life. She and I also share in the delights of being permanent partners in – post-parenting – for a fabulously wonderful young man.  His offspring are the combination of his efforts and the woman whom he married and has become his best friend and colleague and our daughter. From their committed friendship have sprung two (thus far) children; the apples of all our eyes.  Those two darling offspring are our most treasured treasures.  They are Brooklyn and Wyatt.BBW or, Before Brooklyn ‘n Wyatt, there were many words, along with their connected moments, for which my wife and I consider as most treasured moments.

Such things as the first ‘I love you’; and the “Yes!” to an engagement request; and the “I do.” promissory of a life-long commitment of love and devotion.  Then as parents, the first words of our son, “Mommy”, “Daddy”.

To a lessor extent for us – but monumental to both sets for grandparents – hearing his first terms of ‘grand’ applied to them and the follow-up whimsies he sent forth.  As he grew and expressed his mind; even in the times of disagreement; we saw in his words, the character of the man he would become.

The vocabulary he grew up with was not tainted in words that bring embarrassment and shame. But, rather with words that uplift, encourage and speak to a higher focus.  He has, in life thus far, mirrored the pictures painted by those words.

The pleasure we as parents derive from this, flows in an unspoken, yet not wordless, vocabulary of love and respect.  For a parent, it truly – doesn’t get any better than this! Over the past 8 1/2 years – the time since Brooklyn came on the scene – my wife and I have been adding an entire lexicon of words we use to bring smiles, tears, warm-fuzzies, and moments of pure joy to our lives. Then 2 1/2 years later, our family increased by one, when Master Wyatt came along.  He has been a remarkably wonderful addition; both to life and the now expanding B&W Lexicon.

Utterly astounding, it is, how a simple phrase such as, “That’s not right!”; or a word like “Grandpa?”; can usher in both a concrete point of how to live a treasured life, or just warm the cockles of the heart. All the while bringing a smile – that heartily competes with the brightest of sunrises – on our faces.  But it happens: daily!

Our B & W Lexicon of Endearing Words and Phrases is filling up with such treasures as:

  • “Oh Grandpa…”
  • “One time…”
  • “I do!”
  • “Will it hurt you?”
  • “She’s over me.”
  • “I don’t like cauliflower!”
  • “Keep it in your mind.”
  • “Are you pulling my leg?”
  • “It’s just my ‘magination’.”

With many more to come.

To you, the reader, there is little emotion stirred from the list above – unless you have a direct connection of your own.  For me however, it’s a world of metaphor. Each word and phrase telling an entire story.  One which each time I see – I am taken back-in-time to the moment the memory was made.  This is the power of words.  Ad a series of musical notes to the mix and the memory is encased in neural concrete.

The name of our granddaughter, Brooklyn, for me conjures an entire book; literally. The story came to mind the minute I heard what her name would be. It has nothing to do with an urban landscape, nor the bridge so associated.

The scenic memory takes root in the first five letters of her beautiful name: BROOK.  As an avid fly-fisher, I am also a lover of the colder water fish known to the fraternity of trout lovers as (Salvelinus fontinalis). Or more commonly known as the Brook Trout. Not actually a trout, but a member of the char family, the brook trout is to the cold water fishes, what the wood duck is to waterfowl: shear unadulterated beauty.  A magnificent array of color and beauty. My granddaughter is well named.

Within a few days of Brooklyn’s birth I began fantasizing non-stop about a time in the not-too-distant future, when she would begin asking me to take her fishing; to teach her to fly-fish; and the days upon days of joy and excitement the two of us would share in pursuit of the finer, more artistic part of the wonderful event called fly-fishing.

My fantasy melded into the story of a little girl’s journey along a stream in which a little brook trout emerges from it’s egg sack learning to fend for itself; growing into a young parr and making it’s way in the watery world of the stream, regularly visited by the little girl and her family.

The opening scene has the little girl riding in her car seat, along the winding road that parallels the mountain stream in which the little brook trout has just emerged.  As the family car passes over the bridge spanning the soon-to-be-home of the tiny trout, the little girl; unable yet to speak or know the world about her, sees the colors of the newly emerged leaves and the light as it gently filters down from the blue sky above and she smiles.  She has no idea why, but a feeling of comfort, warmth, belonging and home come over her.  She’s far too young to understand any of this beyond the sense of comfort and it makes her smile.  Interestingly, this same feeling washes over her every time their family car passes over this bridge. No other. Just this bridge.

Three years later as she and her daddy walk along the stream, just down from the bridge, the fly her daddy had just dropped into a feeding lane vanishes. A few minutes later, the little girl and the now 3 year old brook trout meet.  Immediately she falls in love with the brook trout; she wants to take it home. Her daddy tells her about the value of being selective and letting the trout go back to the water and live; to make more trout and maybe she’ll visit again by taking another of daddy’s flies. The trout, knowing nothing of love, but a lot about fear of predators, does not – when looking at the little human – feel the fear she has of the warm thing gripping her.  The moment is brief, but forever in the minds of both entities.

The story continues to tell the interaction of the brook trout and the little girl, culminating in the day, 3 years later, when the little girl catches the little brook trout and the little girl must make her first life and death decision.  You will have to read the book (and I will have to finish writing it) to find out the answer.

All of this washed over me -again and again – like an ocean wave.  Each time bringing in more information, idea and energy. Somehow, I just knew Brooklyn would become my fishing companion.  And now in her 8th year, she is beginning to make a move in that direction.

I was greeted with a phone call a few weeks back with a request from Miss Brooklyn. “Grandpa?” she asked.

“Yes, Miss Brooklyn, what can I do for my precious little lady?”

“Grandpa, would you take me fly-fishing?”

At that moment, somewhere in the realms of my heaven, angelic choirs lit off into a mighty Reggae line and the steel drums echoed among the mountain tops!  Music to my ears!  Bingo! I’d hit the lottery!!  All of this and a thousand times more.

“Why, sure thing princess. When do we go?”, I was able to gasp out.

“Oh, Grandpa, it’s still too cold. But I want to go as soon as we can.”, she intoned.

“We’ll do it fist time we have opportunity. Maybe when you and Wyatt come stay with us this summer. How about that?”, I added.

“Oh, can’t we do it sooner? I really want to go fly-fishing.”, she pleaded unnecessarily; I was totally sold!

“We will go fly-fishing at the very first opportunity and we’ll do it as often as we can and you want to continue. How’s that?”, I committed.

“OK. That sounds great. I hope it’s really soon.”, she said with great plans and hope.

“Me, too, sweetie. Me too!”, I said concretely.

Unlike the verse that greeted me, when I would take the final drink from my favorite Donald Duck whistle cup as a kid, “All Gone”.  This story, instead winds into another word phrase of memorable importance.  I hear the musical refrain, the song which ushered my wife and I from our marriage ceremony, courtesy of Karen and Richard Carpenter, and remember –“We’ve Only Just Begun”.

Oh! Have we ever …just begun.

Farm house barometers: it’s cold and it snowed

Posted 2012/01/13 by memdecoeur
Categories: Memory

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On snowing, snowy, wind-chilled, mornings, colder-than-a-second-grade-girl-friends-leer, I didn’t need to look out the window to know it was cold. All I had to do was open my eyes.  If it was near zero: say from 5F to 10F, then I would see my breath.  Yes. Indoors. In my room. While in bed.  Did I mention my room was a bit chilly?

I’d lay there and expel air in small amounts creating tiny clouds of breath-fog. Each one, once expelled, would rapidly ascend to the angled attic roof, not 8″ above my head, where they would collide and be destroyed. Then I’d repeat in variations until I was ready to retire, under-the-covers and attempt to not hear my mom calling me to, “Get up and go ____!”  That blank could be everything from ‘milk the cow’ to ‘get ready for school’.  Welcome to my ‘Farm Life’.  For real!

Growing up in the late ’50s and early ’60s, in rural Hoosierville, we did not enjoy the so-called advances of the new phenomena called… Suburbs.  We simply lived in farm houses; on the a farm; surrounded by farms; scatted with cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats and whatever else was raised or tolerated.  We lived country life … for real.

Part of that reality was this, houses were poorly insulated, even more poorly heated and were often just barely windbreaks in the colder months.  I say barely windbreaks, because there were a lot of drafty entry points in every house. Well beyond the drafty doors and windows, we had drafty corners, floors, roofs and walls.  Nearly any place, two pieces of building material met, could produce a draft.  In fact it was more likely to produce a draft than it was to keep one out.  Old timbers. Unskilled construction. Decades of drying out. Limited use of paint. And you have drafts.

We didn’t have many colds though. Guess the environment was too conducive to healthy auto-immune conditions.  We did have runny noses on cold mornings: today referred to a ‘nasal drip’.  And when you woke on a cold, frosty morning – in a drafty room – one of your first hints of a really cold morning, was the frozen snot on your cheeks.  Sure it’s gross. Even more so in person than in the imagination.  But you cannot deny the infallible validation it gave to the conditions; both inside the house and out.  It WAS COLD!

When that cold morning also showed it was blessed with a new coating of snow; the more the merrier; I didn’t need to look out the window for that indication either.  I looked into the ‘snow corner’. Yes, it had a physical location and designation.  Heck, if I’d have known anything about GIS then, I’d have had the UTM coordinates as well.  As it was, it was just known as the ‘snow corner’.

The ‘snow corner’ was my go-to-spot for letting me know: before doing the unthinkable act of breaking the heat-seal of 30 pounds of quilts and covers sparing me from the cold outer reaches of my below-zero universe-of-a-room.   Peeping out of the covers, leaning over the bed, and staring into the far NW corner of my room, where little if any light existed for visual verification, until later in the afternoon; a time I would never get to see from bed, unless I was extremely ill; I’d try to determine if there was snow on the floor.

If I found snow, then it had snowed outdoors in the night.  How much snow depended on two things:  1) How windy  and  2) How snowy.  Both were also dependent upon the length of time each was involved in production.

As I peered into the corner I would longingly look and hope for a huge drift of snow. Reaching well out into the room; not along the wall, but into the room.  Such a find would be jubilant enough to toss me out of my warm cocoon and into the frozen wasteland of my room!  For it meant LOTS of snow; HUGE drifts and definitely NO SCHOOL.  It did mean however, a lot of shoveling and dragging stuff  through the snow to care for farm duties.  But nothing in life is free.. right?  So, the rent for freedom from school was the added weight to the farm chores.  Dividends, no doubt, the envy of Wall Street.  I’m sure!

However, on most occasions the event was far more subtle.  It was more akin to the deft shadowing an artist would use to merely suggest depth in a faint image of a feather.  Barely perceptible … and definitely hugging the wall. There would not be an unmistakable drift.  No, it would be a small parlance of crystals, just barely large enough to gather light for a tiny, barely perceptible glint of reflection.

I would lean so hard to see this revelation, that many times I nearly fell from the graces of my warm confines and onto the tundra – that was more commonly referred to as – my floor. Upon which on more than one occasion I had the privilege of a physics lessons in thermal transfer.  Hot chocolate freezing near instantaneously when hitting a near sub-zero clime.  The accidental discoveries were always more preferred to the monotonous reminder that I’d have to rouse from what warm area I’d discovered to get more hot chocolate if I didn’t stop the experiments!

As stated, the more likely outcome of the wind and snow would reveal but a streak of snow crystals present.  Thus, letting me know that outside, school and farm chores were both on the docket.  And soon mom would begin her morning ritual of attempting to resurrect the near-dead to some sort of readiness for the day.  Translated: get us out of her hair and pronto.

Now, all these years later, on snowy, windy days I watch the snow with care.  I image once again those days, when I would summon my farmhouse barometers of the little breath fogs and the snow-corner for indications of just what kind of day lay in store.

Like most kids, I really did not appreciate those times.  They all blew by so fast.  But at least the memories have not all passed upwards, crashing into the roof overhead to become as ethereal as the breath-fogs.  And even though most of these memories are more like the sparse crystals of snow that lined the wall in the snow-corner. It is possible to whip up the winds of memory and rouse a good blow so that the memories become bigger, clearer and more complete.

Call it what you will.  They all did happen. And happened as they are told. The styling of the story may be padded with a bit of embellishment.  But, for that matter, what part of my being has not suffered the same, over the years.?


Literary Connections…

Posted 2011/12/26 by memdecoeur
Categories: Events, Guideposts, Memory

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My good friend and fellow aquatic hauntee, George Jacox, posted earlier today about books, specifically fly-fishing books he liked.  He elaborated a bit on his main thesis.  George’s post drew a rather agreeable comment from our common friend, William (Bill) Schudlich.  Bill’s comments got me to thinking.  First off I just had to make this comment:

Shoot, y’all just named half my ‘special selections’ library’.

As well as the Maclean books – I re-read each of Middelton’s book’s mentioned by Sir Willie of Schudville .. and I do hope one day to get a copy of Rivers of Memory.  I so want to read this book! And – if I my ship stops sinking – MAYBE – a copy of, The Starlight Creek Angling Society! I would love to own this book. But I would just like to actually see, hold and read one!

I also totally agree that Traver (real name: John Voelker) books and stories are must reads; with Trout Madness and Trout Magic list high. Voelker was a personal friend of my good friend and colleague from the Traverse City , MI area, Dave Richey. When you speak with a person who actually had, on-the-water/in-the-woods, intimate knowledge of a legend like Voelker, you get a sense of just how much one can miss by not being in the same arena, venue or age. CARPE DIEM!

Then I got to thinking about other books – besides my shared enjoyment of those mentioned by George and Bill.  I started to go over some other books I’ve read – and re-read – over the past few years.  So a list began to form.  But not just a list.  What began to form was a much deeper meaning than just reading good books.  There was – and remains – an intimate relationship with the books I read, the people I know, icons I wish to meet, passions I love to pursue.

Especially any of the above fortunate enough to also coincide with just about any value on the subject of FLY FISHING.

It’s not merely about literary interest … it’s vastly more important than that!!

Here’s my addition to the conversation:

  • Anything by Thomas McGuane .. but especially The Longest Silence. This is a book title one should read, ponder and practice.
  • Paul Quinnett’s books: Pavlov’s Trout (the quintessential book on Outdoor Ethics!); Darwin’s Bass and Fishing Lessons (should be requisite for anyone taking to the water!  Paul is a clinical psychologist and developer of the QPR (Question, Persuade & Refer), Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention program. Paul knows a thing or two about the benefits of fly-fishing!
  • M.R. Montgomery’s, Many Rivers to Cross .. wonderfully imaginative – yet at times, heart rending – a culinary delight of Western fishing for it’s vanishing native lands, vistas, ecosystems and it’s most desirable, cold-water citizens.
  • Anything by David James Duncan .. most notably for it’s popularity – The River Why.  But, if you’ve not read his book, My Story as Told By Water – you have not found the reason for WHY, Maclean could write, “I am haunted by waters.” Read it and you, too, will find your explanation.
  • Every word written by John Gierach! PERIOD.  The guy is a veritable Pied Piper of Fly Fishing Story. There are few writers – from any genre – whom I can read and re-read their work – on any page, at any time – for any length of time … and enjoy it every time.  This magical aura surrounding Gierach’s writing never ceases to amaze me.  He’s constant in his ability to addict the reader.
  • And – not because this book is a piece of literary wonder, but because it keeps me in remembrance of a fine man, whom I miss very much: Tight Lines, Bright Water Water-  by Dave Engerbretson. It’s a good read about a man who loved, life and enjoyed helping others do the same: in all aspects possible in the grand outdoors: freshly mowed backyard or deep wilderness. There are still times- when I find it hard to believe I cannot just email or call this jolly fellow – my good friend – of such incredible aquatic pursuance knowledge. So, I annually re-read this book… and regularly scan it for tidbits of remembrance.  It’s a good habit that I shall continue to nurture.

If there’s a special outdoors/fishing/fly-fishing/hunting or whatever person, who has impacted your life; who is no longer living: if they’ve written a book – or if only a card, letter or left you with a recording or a simple phone message: revisit it:  often. Recall their ‘voice’; that energy that made them special in your life; to your life.  Keep their flame alive for you.  Then, Pass It On, to light the way for others.  Pass On… their remembrance to others, so they too, can get to know your special people.  Everyone needs to get to know special people. This is a priceless gift to the future.M/p>

Carpe Diem ! Seize every moment, every minute of every day – do so with gusto – and renew the definition of:

WHY? …

“…fly-fishing is such a magical place, with magical moments, made more wonderful, daily… by the magical relationships… between, man, water, fish, feather and fur.”  – Sam Stovepipe, Sage of Gar Island

Keep the passion going.  Read. Remember. Restore.

My Life As Told By Water, by David James Duncan

The River Why, by David James Duncan

Trout Bum, by John Geirach

Pavolov’s Trout, by Paul Quinnett

Darwin’s Bass, by Paul Quinnett

Fishing Lessons, by Paul Quinnett

The Longest Silence, by Thomas McGuane

Many Rivers To Cross, by M. R. Montgomery

Tight Lines, Bright Waters, by Dave Engerbretson

The Auction Story

Posted 2010/09/01 by memdecoeur
Categories: Memory

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The growing crowd surged, under the brightening morning sun, like waves of the unharvested oats ripening in nearby fields.  This rather usual gathering of local curiosity was a common site in small towns and farm communities, around the country, not all that long ago. The participants were all willing tickets in a special dance, common to small community life.

They were gathered for an event.  It was an auction.

Auctions were the place, in the era of my youth, on the western edge of the great Hoosier prairie, to gather for used goods in the days before garage sales and flea markets. Auctions were the unofficial redistribution channel of local possession wealth.  The auction was also a revelation of past personal histories.

Auctions would – and still do – bring out some of the more interesting elements in a small community population. Small town auctions are even more condensed in their storied, story-lines. Participating in an auction can appear, in principle, a lot like slowly peeling away the skin of a banana.  From the outside it looks ripe and clear. But, once the peeling is removed, the imperfections – and even the unexpected treasures – are revealed in all their naked reality.

Thus, people come to them as much for the findings – the revealing traces of the people – now on public display – who amassed the possessions being sold – as for the goods themselves.

Small town communities are built upon people.  People are the genesis of history.  And history is rife with ripe untold stories; well, at least untold in the light of day. It was the lure of untold story potential that tugged at the surging mass of humanity that morning. Anticipation fed the little centers of curiosity, agitating the very core of each participant.

But this auction was not to be – at least for me – any regular auction, driven by the quivering dopamine-rushed hippocampi pumping the wave of small town auction curiosity.  No. This auction was to become a key component in my own personal heritage collection.

This is my … Auction Story.

The auctioneer strode the to top of his auctioneer’s stand and flipped on the speaker.  His voice sparked and crackled over the bright morning air with a call for the crowd’s attention. He paused carefully – and deliberately – allowing the heads in the bobbing wave before him to gain a majority in his direction.

Upon finding the moment, he began his enumeration of the virtues of all the possessions on display on the many tables, on wagons and in roped-off sections of the parking lot before he and his congregation of, “Will I or Will I Not… be the new owner of ____?”.

He gave instructions and times for each auction of goods by lot-type and value.  He then flipped off the mic.  With an electronic snap the wave returned to its previous hum; steeped in personal investigation.

The auction had begun.

In most auctions the early morning hours are used as a time for previewing the goods. This allows the potential buyers time to work up their list of items on which they will begin a monetary joust with their fellow auctionites.

The day progressed as normal right up until the lunch break. At this point, those who remained with a card full of items to bid on, would either walk to a nearby restaurant or diner or patronize one of the on-site vendors.  Socializing during the lunch-break was as popular as the need to grab a bite-to-eat before entering the auction battle arena. All of this was preparation to actually begin the bidding for goods.

Shortly after 1:00 PM the auctioneer again strolled to his podium, flipped on the mic and with another sharp crack from the speakers, he brought the crowd to attention and the auction began in earnest.

Nearing 2:00 PM, the event that was to seal, in my memory, what an auction is truly about, began to unfold.

One of the roped off lots had a collection of shop equipment; tools of various sorts.  There, lain out upon tables and in boxes and crates were the tools of a farmer.  They weren’t new or even all that clean, but they had in themselves a special beauty. Sturdy, used, but dependable tools: hammers, wrenches, files, saws, drop-cords, oil cans, and the like. Stacked in wooden crates were cans of screws, nuts, washers, bolts and other assorted hardware that become the daily essentials of the farm workshop.

You see when a farmer isn’t in the field preparing, caring for or harvesting a crop, he’s fixing his equipment.  And all that fixing takes place in – or in very close proximity (drive way, feed lot, barn lot to mention a few) to the shop. The shop is the hub of a farm; the nerve center.  And one of the most important tools found in a farm shop is the vice.

In the middle of this assortment of tools stood a steel-plate workbench and on that bench was a big … BIG … vice.

That vice had my uncles’ eye.

He had been playing peek-a-boo with that vice nearly since the moment he’d arrived.  He was coy though.  He didn’t dare give anyone the impression he was interested – not in the least – about actually bidding on it.  That is one of the many tricks learned by veteran auction attendees.

The auctioneer began calling off the items. One by one the bidding began and ended with a sale. The vice remained untouched.  Seconds dragged into minutes. Before long 15 minutes gave way to half-an-hour. Still, no one had ventured a bid on the vice.  Occasionally, as an item of low interest was being promoted, my uncle would wander over to the vice bench and check on the mood surrounding it.  It was calm.  But he wasn’t.  He knew two things:  1) He wanted the vice.  2) He didn’t have the money to buy it.

Both are real problems on an auction ground.

The auctioneer was wrapping up the auction and noticed the very large vice and equally large man standing next to it.  The same vice that had not received a single bid and the same man that had remained close by it throughout the auction. Yes. It was that obvious. Well, at least to the man in charge of making a living by moving these goods; if not to anyone else.

At an auction there are three primary ways to instigate a productive sale mood.

First, proper placement of highly desirable goods.  When an auction has a fair number of items, for which people will be hot to buy, the auctioneer can space special offering of these items out, so as to create interest and the induced purchase of peripheral goods.  Some will even go so far as to plant nice items in an otherwise mediocre to poor quality lot to seed sales.  As long as it’s done within reason, it is seen as a good marketing ploy.

Second, is offering a few – select – highly-desirable products at incredibly – ‘can’t pass ’em up’ – low prices.  Often the auctioneer will offer a moderately interesting item – or even a very good one – at a very low price point.  Such an effort is like seeding the lot with better items, only the seed here is the price.

The third option is to offer a compelling story.  The alert auctioneer will watch his congregation with an eye for opportunity. If he sees a person in the crowd whom he believes – or observes – as being a crowd favorite, he might just offer that person an opportunity to make him a story.  With that story-line the crowd can become a feeding frenzy.

The auctioneer knew he had his story-line. He just had to figure a way to put the big man and the big vice into a crowd pleasing moment.

The loudspeaker crackled to life again as the auctioneer spoke.

“Hey Big-Fella? Yes, you by the big vice. Are you going to bid on the vice?  You seem to have taken quite a liking to it.”

My uncle answered back clearly,”I would if had the money. But I don’t.”

Sensing the moment of a great story-line, the auctioneer countered with a can’t-miss-offer.

“OK. I’ll tell you what I’ll do.  Since you’re the only one who seems to really like that vice, I’ll give you a crack at getting it.   So, tell me, what do you think it weighs?”

Carefully studying the vice for a few seconds, my uncle looked up at the auctioneer and said, “Enough… enough that any man who could lift it and carry it, should own it.”

“Alright then!”, exclaimed the auctioneer. “If you can carry that vice to your truck and put it on the bed… you own it.  That vice will be yours.”

A smile began to grow across my uncles wide, gentle face. He looked straight at the auctioneer and said in a pleasingly low tone, “Oh, I don’t know. That might not be fair.”

“Fair?”, coughed the auctioneer. “If you think you can carry it to your …”. And before the auctioneer could finish his counter, my uncle reached down, hoisted the vice from that big steel-plate table – strode with an unwavering stride to his truck. Then in one continuous move, lifted that giant vice even higher to the level of the near-shoulder-high – truck bed.  He dropped the vice with a loud  – CLANG – that announced to all, the deal was closed.

The entire truck shuddered and bucked under the weight of the giant vice as it hit the truck bed. For a full 30 seconds the springs and shocks struggled to restore equilibrium.  The wave of the congregation had stopped.  No noise.  Only the sounds of the world outside this local auction community could be heard.

After a brief moment, my uncle turned, looked at the auctioneer and simply … smiled.  The crowd erupted into a vibrating cacophony of applause as the pulsing  body heaved one giant gelatinous wave after another of congratulation.  The auctioneer beamed.  It was one of his best moves ever… and he knew it.

The big man had his big vice.  The auctioneer had his story-line.  And as I understand it, the auctionites made quite a day of transferring local possession wealth.

They gave him -the table

From that day forward, I heard recant, mention or relay of the story at least once a month.  Each time, I was never reticent to announce that, “Yes! and that was MY UNCLE!”  Amazing what impact -and zone of safety- such a story-shadow can provide a young kid growing up.

Witness the power and importance of the heritage story.  The fragments of our lives are wrapped around the framework of certain key stories.  These stories are what our lives are built upon.  They form the framework of the character we carry though out our lives.

Likewise, we never know when  -WE-  are adding to another person’s heritage story-line. Uncanny isn’t it?

We simply cannot afford to loose connection to our heritage. If we do, we loose connection to our very life compass.  Recovery is possible later on, but not without facing some very unnecessary and rough waters before we do.

Listen-to and look-for your heritage stories and you will know it. You’ll also realize it as one of your best moves ever.


The Auction Story by Les Booth
From the series, “In The Shadow of Gar Island: a life of wonder on the edge of the Hoosier prairie”
Written for Donna Swanson’s eMagazine: Aechoes

The Home-Ground: an introduction

Posted 2010/05/14 by memdecoeur
Categories: Memory

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Today I begin a detailed, yet hap-hazard, journal of memories.

Memories of my life, living and growing up on a small farm in western Indiana, on the banks of a stream in which my view of life was baptized and will forever remain locked in a love affair with the natural world.

This journal is the seeding for a book. A book I’ve long wanted to write and even more importantly, I needed to write.  This book will detail my life growing up in, on, around and among the waters of this stream.  The waters of this stream have an ever-present flow in and out; fully encompassing my life.  I ebb and flow on its undulating pulse.

I didn’t really know how to describe my feelings about this rivulet of water. Not until I watched – for the third go-round, the infamous movie version of Norman Maclean’s story, A River Runs Through It.  The final words in the movie, read by the author himself, are the same as those in the story. They are: I am haunted by waters.

Profound.  Insightful.  Revealing.  Deafening.  Frightening.

Completely unexpected, I had feelings gushing upward through my emotional mantel. Coming from somewhere inside, in a deep seated cavern of sequestered protection.  A place I sensed, but did not have a clue to its location.  With it surged a flood of emotions, capped by flooding tears, accompanied by a jolting wave of sobs.  What good fortune it was for me that this revelatory event took place in my own living room, in the predawn hours, while my wife and son were asleep in their rooms, carefully cloistered away from the man breaking down not 8 yards from either of them.

How could have I missed, before, the cataclysmic force unleashed in those 5 words?  Did I really miss them?  Had I just not understood them?  Questions I honestly don’t know the answer to.  But I do know that in that moment, during the serendipitous late-night, channel surfing,  I had an explanation for what that little stream in western Indiana meant to me.

For I too, am haunted by waters.   And I am eternally grateful.

The water in a stream never stops, never rests, never remains in one place.  The water is always moving, changing, being changed, actively involved, never passive.  Life is just like this. Even when we think time has stood still, it is only our mind’s perception of halted time, that is in neutral. For all life is constantly flowing in the same stream.  Nothing ever stands still.

I eventually left the banks of my beloved stream.  But only physically.  That was almost 38 years ago.  Yet, to the very second I am typing this my every action is directed, mentored, motivated and purposed… by what I lived and learned along the banks of that stream.

I am compelled to write of this stream and it’s effects on my life. Not by vanity, but a desire to tell others of the richness it imparted to me.  The story may only be a work of recording memory for an unwilling audience, but at least it will have been recorded.  And if, perchance, one other person feels anything positive from reading it, then the effort was a compete success.  I am, however, optimistic.  I do believe many people will be compelled to read the book. Compelled for the same reasons that compel me to write it: the richness of it all is overwhelming and it beckons to be touched, tasted, breathed in deeply, exhaled lightly, supped, cherished. It will be at this point, when the reader of my book, sees their own home-ground in a light of loving appreciation. For the first time, or for the umpteenth time. Either way… it is all good.

Thus the saga of my remembering – mes mémoire dú coeur – my memories of the heart, on the little stream in western Hoosierville, begins.

What Papa Bear and The Gar People Taught Me About Life .. begins now.


From the series, “In The Shadow of Gar Island: a life of wonder on the edge of the Hoosier prairie”

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