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Just Don’t

no fishing

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Some Background

Loyal readers may have noticed a change in the aesthetics of these pages, a new layout and look. It’s a mid-winter make-over, just one symptom of a mild case of the Shack Nasties and, while Quill Gordon himself has no intention whatsoever of making an appointment with a stylist, The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond could stand to be gussied up a bit. (Another symptom of this strain of Shack Nasties is hanging out in south-facing windows, fighting cats for sunny spots.)

The image for our current background is a picture of flies tied and framed by Don Bastian, replicating a color plate from the book “Trout” by Ray Bergman. You can visit Don’s blog by following this link to Don Bastian Wet Flies.

Don’s flies are great but we can’t help feeling the new background kind of looks like pajamas. Reader input is welcome.

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Something Different: Pictures of Lily

Some dimwit clicked the “like” button on a recent post to this blog and, of course, I took the bait and clicked the link. To get a fly fishing reference in here I should write that “I rose to the well-presented offering” but this particular dimwit doesn’t strike me as able to stand still long enough to be much of an angler. He also likes his whisky with an e.

Chris Hinton’s blog is an odd amalgam of whatever comes pouring out of his brain so follow the link above at your peril. He is also known to have yelled at his mother for not having a blog of her own but now she does and he has redeemed himself by posting some lovely photos of flowers, which I thought was nice because his mother’s blog offers support for those grieving the loss of a child.

Clara Hinton’s blog is Silent Grief Child Loss Support. She seems to me to be a nice woman, who knows what it’s like, trying to help others through very hard times.

Following the lead of a dimwit in Pittsburgh, a few photos for them:

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Of an Evening

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Tapping Out

(A new tab at the top of this page (or this link) will take you to a collection of photos and links following the production of maple syrup this spring from the sugar bush of some friends. Their new enterprise is called Bobo’s Mountain Sugar, and the taps are in on Bobo’s Mountain — all 2500 of them.)

In mixed martial arts, tapping out is an act of submission, the end of a fight, and often the result of a violent twisting of arms. In maple syrup production, tapping out is a declaration of victory, the end of a job that no one’s arm had to be twisted to do.

big old tree

The snow was deep when I started helping on the hill above the sugar house, but I waded and floundered and stomped my way along the lines, tapping trees for a few hours each afternoon, doing what I could. The steepness of the hill, combined with thickets of beech and short balsams, had me convinced I made the right call in leaving my snowshoes at home, even as more flakes fell every day. After struggling in the wake of an additional 14+” from one storm, I finally gave in and strapped them on the next day.

If, as they say, snowshoes make the impossible difficult, it was a very hard afternoon. Without my snowshoes I had sunk to my knees; with them I still sank to my knees and had to high-step to clear the holes I’d made, with the decks weighted down with snow. Lifting a leg, expecting 25 pounds of resistance but getting none because the snow slid off, resulted in a few sharp blows to my chin and twice I kneed myself in the ear when my right foot sank deeper as I lifted my left. Continue reading

Categories: +Uncategorized, Maple Syrup, Rural Life, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A January Thing

Every fall I make noise about attending one of the big fly fishing shows over the winter, but by the time I feel ready to deal with a couple thousand anglers, all at once, the shows are over and done. The closest show to Fish in a Barrel Pond is in Marlborough, MA, this weekend, and quite frankly it’s just too soon. You all go ahead with your eager anticipation of the season to come, but some of us are still recovering from the last one. Opening Day will be here soon enough. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the peace and quiet.

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Lord of My Domain

There are going to be some changes around here in 2013, even though I know as well as the next guy that change is bad.

First and foremost, if everything works as intended, your browser’s address bar should show you to now be among the pages fishinabarrelpond.com instead of the address we formerly used. In theory, the old ghoti62.wordpress.com will still get you here, but it involves something called a “redirect” and it is my understanding that this redirect is accomplished using monkeys. Monkeys being monkeys, not all devices or browsers may be able to recognize this redirect, so some of you may need/want to re-set something in order to always find your way back to fishinabarrelpond.com.

Secondly, I must apologize to anyone who visited on Sunday and found the pages kept changing. It was just Quill Gordon, pretending he knew what he was doing, trying out different layouts and themes to spiffy up the joint for the New Year. Must have tried a hundred variations but, with the exception of adding a background color, everything is pretty much the same as it always was, just the way we like it. For now.

Happy New Year to all. Make the most of 2013.

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When Art Imitates Art, Good Fish Die

Before color photography (and the ability to print it cheaply), outdoor catalog and magazine covers featured the work of illustrators. Never receiving the same attention as their contemporaries who did “fine” art, and certainly never able to command the same prices for their works, those illustrators created lasting images of our sport, using paint, crayons and pastels.

Their age alone evokes nostalgia, but there is a rich quality to the illustrator’s art — like the cover above, by Lynn Bogue Hunt – that other media just can’t match. Of course, if a similar image were to appear today, not only would it be a photo instead of a painting, but someone would probably be wearing a bikini.

Any image imaginable is possible today, with modern digital photography and editing software. Advertisements have become more absurd than ever, with talking reptiles and flying trucks; pixel by pixel manipulation of photos has become the norm. Where photography once provided an interpretation of what the artist saw, it is now used to create what the artist wishes us to see and, to me, much of what passes for “photography” these days should more properly be called “digital art”. By the time some of these “photos” are published, not much of the original image remains, and we seem to take for granted the inclusion or complete fabrication of elements that may not have existed before. It takes skill and a keen eye to produce such false images that look so nearly real, but what happens when a modern, 21st Century photographer uses his chosen medium to reproduce one of those iconic images from the past?

Photographer Randal Ford took on just such a task when he signed on with L.L. Bean to recreate the cover of their Spring 1933 catalog as part of L.L. Bean’s 100th anniversary celebration. Continue reading

Categories: +Uncategorized, Fly Fishing, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

In Pursuit of Something or Other

“Many anglers at least pretend to aspire to perfection in the things they do, even though they may not be able to pin down exactly what perfection is. Most of us don’t have the slightest inkling of the consequences should one actually attain such a state of being but, still, we try. It seems we learn well through repetition, doing things again and again until we get them right, even if it takes all day, a whole year, or even the rest of our lives. It’s okay. We’ll get it. Practice makes perfect.”

That’s the opening paragraph of a piece I wrote for The Backcountry Journal, a relatively new site featuring the work of outdoorsy writers like myself. Okay, not just like myself; the talented writers featured at The Backcountry Journal are not all tall, have long hair, or sport large moustaches, but they each have a way with words as sharp as their eyes for the world.

When you have finished my piece, “Making Perfect”, you should spend some time browsing the other work Ben Smith has chosen to feature on The Backcountry Journal. You’ll be glad you did.

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Old Stompin’ Grounds

There are times I miss the wide open spaces and expansive views of the West, like this one along the Arkansas River (if you pronounce it “Arkansaw” I won’t hold it against you), just south of Cañon City, Colorado. Cactus and cottonwoods have a certain appeal, especially when there are trout nearby.

Did I wet a line? No, I did not. I caught fish, though, at least in my head, but they were mostly ghosts of memories from days gone by, sweetly bitter like sage brush and cholla. Continue reading

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