Posted tagged ‘heritage’

Words of Endearment…

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.


Literary Connections…


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


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