December is a good time for a fisherman to take stock. Among other things there are fly boxes to be refilled, lines to be cleaned, and rods to be hung up in a dry, out-of-the-way place. There’s a certain comfort in these kinds of simple seasonal tasks which I’ve really grown to appreciate over the years.
And even in the midst of the holiday madness it’s probably as good a time as any to take stock of the year as a whole. At this point in my life, with more years than most but still with a lot left to learn, the winter months are a natural time for a little reflection. How will the last year hold up in the scheme of things?
I guess the short answer — to the extent that you can give a short answer to something like this — is pretty well, especially when I look around me.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past year, you know that the overall picture is a little on the grim side. Even though most fly-fisherman tend to live somewhere on the periphery of mainstream society, we certainly aren’t immune from the broader trends, or at least not as immune as we sometimes think.
I’d wager that most of us know someone who has lost a job or a loved one, or who has had to deal with more than their fair share of the burden over these last twelve months. For some inexplicable reason I’ve managed to avoid that, surely through no doing of my own, but I’d certainly be remiss without recognizing that fact and feeling both lucky and grateful for it.
On the fishing front — a critical measure for any fisherman worth his salt — the year was also a pretty good one. I didn’t get as much trout fishing in as I would have liked, but what little I did was pretty good. Fewer days on the water, but the ones I did have seemed almost better for it. I also had a reasonably good salmon trip, which is something I look forward to almost as soon as the previous year’s trip ends. The fishing was tough at times, but it was better at the end then the beginning which always leaves one feeling a little bit better than the facts should probably allow. In a way that sort of characterizes my fishing as a whole in 2010. Not a great fishing year but certainly a good one, which is good enough for me.
Things at the shop were more chaotic this year than I would have liked, the consequence of some long overdue upgrades in machinery and the inevitable projects which are related to rodbuilding but which somehow manage not to produce a lot of rods themselves. Upgrading a lathe. Re-arranging some of my workspace. Trying to stay on top of the general clutter that piles up when you have too much going on and too little time in which to do it. Despite what my shop may look like most of the time, I actually find it pretty hard to work well when things are too cluttered and so I’m hoping that a more organized 2011 is in the offing.
Also, and this should fairly obvious to anyone who’s been visiting this site regularly, it was really good to have Junior helping me out this year. Being a solo rodmaker is a tough job for a lot of reasons but one big one is that you usually have to be able to do it all yourself for the simple reason that no one else is around to do it for you. Having someone to help take some of those tasks off of my plate so that I can focus on rodbuilding has been a real godsend. In addition to entering the 21st Century with a website, there’s also the pleasure that comes with knowing that every word I write will be pored over, edited, and re-edited in a way that I could never manage on my own. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that we’re really coauthors of all of this. It’s also been a heck of a lot of fun.
And of course there’s also the pleasure of working together at something that we both care about so much, a luxury that few people have and which we’re both grateful for. He has his own life to live, of course, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy that bamboo rods have become a pretty large part of it.
In the end, when I sit down and really take stock, I have my health, good friends, and I’m able to continue doing what I love, which is more than anyone has a right to ask for.
Happy New Year and here’s to 2011.