The Cremation of MMXIII

(To the delight of some and the consternation of others, this is not Part II of our tribute to Forgotten Fly Fishing Legend Little Dickie Conroy. That particular dispatch will appear shortly, just as soon as our top-notch research staff has finished making stuff up reviewing source materials.)


A symbolic bonfire is an appropriate and sometimes exciting way to bid farewell and good riddance to the old year. It can also extend a warm welcome to the new year and serve to celebrate the gradual lengthening of days in the midst of a long winter slog. A spontaneous attempt was made to light such a fire three weeks ago, using a very large pile of brush, which was crusted with ice and covered in snow. Despite the use of various accelerants, the effort had to be abandoned and, while someone might have had a good chuckle at the time, someone else came out of the deal with nothing more to show than some ironic burn-holes in his raincoat and a hat that smelled like diesel fuel.

Symbolic, perhaps, but not what we would consider appropriate.

Several attempts since have yielded similar results but we’re sure to get a good one going sooner or later to serve as the symbolic cremation of MMXIII. In the meantime, here is a photo of a fire from a previous post, “The Cremation of MMX” (rest assured that the surprised-looking man in the foreground had no hair to begin with and was just fine):

Quill Gordon Shows How It's Done

Quill Gordon Shows How It’s Done

For the purposes of this post, the fire will be metaphorical, and the brush to be burned is a few things found laying around in the form of notes and half-started nonsense. This should lessen the chances of someone flapping and running, chased by a ribbon of flame, while everyone else hollers, “Drop the can!


Fish in a Barrel Pond, spring 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Spring 2013


Once again, Fly Rod and Reel Magazine published their annual “Best Fly Fishing Jobs” feature and, once again, the editors saw fit to not include Fishing Camp Caretaker in their list of Dream Jobs for People Who Fish.

We here at The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond have come to agree with that decision. Setting one’s sights too high too soon is bound to lead to career disappointment, and we feel one should start with something easy like preparing gourmet helicopter fishing breakfasts or taking a position as a CEO, consultant or manager before jumping into the glamorous world of septic filters and stemware shortages. Besides, there aren’t that many openings for Fishing Camp Caretakers and this particular position is filled for two more years as Quill Gordon and the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society continue to find each other at least mutually tolerable.


Fish in a Barrel Pond, late spring 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Late Spring 2013


Two families from somewhere else rented a house up the hill last summer. They were only in the neighborhood for two weeks but, because they behaved just the way you’d imagine if I told you where they were from, it was a long two weeks.

First, I met the wives one morning. Politely, I told them their husbands could not just stop by and fish when they were done with golf. Firmly, but still politely, I told them they could not just give me money so their husbands could fish after golf. In a bit of a snit, they flounced back up the road, from whence they came.

Shortly after lunch that very same day, I met the husbands, evidently done with golf. Cutting to the chase, they spoke past clenched cigars, insisting that if they gave me money they could fish. As politely as possible, I explained that they could not fish this water, even if they gave me money and even if it looked like no one was around. They were insistent but I was resistant and they finally drove away, muttering around their stogies.

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Summer 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Summer 2013

I like to think that most everyone at least gets a story to tell after a run-in with me (see Quill Gordon and the Nonesuch Mountain Howler), but if those two couples got theirs they weren’t sharing. Not with the kids, anyway. The kids, however, shared their story later that day, but like I told the wives the next morning, I don’t know where teenagers are supposed to go drink their beers. I just know it’s not here.

None of that is the point of this. It just sets the tone for the way things are around here sometimes.

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Summer 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Summer 2013

The point is that one of the aforementioned wives liked to “jog” from their rental to my mailbox and back, in the early morning, singing along with music playing through her ear-buds. Even without knowing the songs she sang, I could tell she was off-key and I’m no musician, so don’t quote me on this, but I’m fairly certain the key in which she sang doesn’t exist.

I am only assuming she actually wore ear-buds and wasn’t just free-styling, but the problem may have been that, with the music blaring so loud in her ears, she couldn’t hear herself sing. We’ll never know but, with the ear-buds out (or maybe just the volume turned way down), she might have had the voice of an angel. She also might have sung more quietly. Audible from three quarters of a mile away, it took fifteen minutes for her to shuffle to a slow crescendo in front of the house and another twenty to fade away as she slowed down on the uphill going back, hollering the whole way about her awesome god.

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Summer 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Summer 2013

Shortly after those nice folks went home to the suburbs and the woodland creatures returned, I picked up a copy of Haunted by Waters: Fly Fishing in North American Literature by Mark Browning (1998) and came across this quote:

“… every book about fishing ever published is materially a book singing its praise, however poorly or well the author sings the song. The songs of angling praise are few in number, but they come in countless thousands with different words to the same beguiling tunes” (Bryn Hammond)

This after commenting on the hundreds, even thousands, of fly fishing books available at the time, including a whopping 400 new titles added to the Library of Congress in the 21 years since 1977.

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Fall 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Fall 2013

Fast forward to the future in which we now live and not only has the number of fly fishing titles in print exploded, but the number of independent, self-published authors and bloggers around our planet is mind-boggling (There are 375 fly fishing blogs listed on the Outdoor Blogger Network alone). Add in the cacophony of all the other stuff that now fills our lives and it can seem sometimes that there’s too much noise to hear oneself sing. A figurative yanking of the ear-buds could be one way of explaining to those who need explanations why Quill Gordon and The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond go dormant from time to time.

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Fall 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Fall 2013

That might not actually be the whole truth (Quill Gordon is a bit of a recluse), but it is kind of poetic and I finally got that lady from somewhere else out of the way. Two things, however, still bother me about her: I never figured out if the visor was to keep her wig in place or if it was a single wig-and-visor unit; and is Spandex supposed to blouse?


Fish in a Barrel Pond, Fall 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Fall 2013


 I read some articles and blog posts at the turning of the year, by people who had resolved to “unplug” and give up their little electronic communication devices for a period of time. Some wrote as if they’d just crossed a wilderness, others like they’d been on some aboriginal vision-quest. A few considered it a lark, like a camping trip, but a couple of them shook in the corner like junkies. I learned there are “boot camps” to help enforce this self-imposed deprivation for people like them (starting at $450 for a weekend). Everyone involved ultimately felt transformed by what they’d been through and claimed they’d never look at their devices the same way again, but I got the feeling most of them were right back to their old thumb-typing selves within an hour or so.

The important thing is that they tried. As a believer in the benefits of unplugging, I would like to help others succeed and, beginning on Opening Day 2014, members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society (and their guests) will be able to take advantage of a new (a la carte) service here at Fish in a Barrel Pond. For a limited-time introductory fee of just $25, the afflicted can hand their device to me on arrival and I will not give it back until they are leaving, no matter what.

Also available, our “Help a Friend” program where, for $99, I will remove a device from the hand of any other designated individual . Some conditions may apply.


Fish in a Barrel Pond, Winter 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Winter 2013


We here at Fish in a Barrel Pond will grant that unplugging increases the chances that one might miss something important happening right this instant, and while we heartily recommend digital silence in large doses, we also grant that nearly two months of quiet might be a bit much.

As we begin our mid-winter poking around through other people’s stuff, we’re finding too many posts (most of them old news by the time we got there) regarding heart attacks and surgeries, re-locations and illnesses. We are glad to see positive outcomes but jeezum crow, people! Knock it off. Get better, get settled, but knock it off. We have a hard enough time keeping up with that Beiber girl and that Lady Gaga dude.

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Winter 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Winter 2013

Dropping the can now.

Best wishes to all in MMXIV.

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Winter 2013

Fish in a Barrel Pond, Winter 2013

Categories: Humor, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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17 thoughts on “The Cremation of MMXIII

  1. Doing my part to knock it off. Thought I do have a chiropractor visit tomorrow cause my spouse is tired of my whining.

    • Thank you, Steve, good for you. Sometimes it’s the whining about the whining that gets to me. Go get an alignment and make her feel better.

  2. BuggyD

    As one who has always believed that it’s not hard to give up what you never took up, I’ve so far avoided those little electronic devices (other than the home PC so’s I can read the View From Fish in a Barrel Pond now & then). Love those pics of F in a B Pond!

    • Well, you’re one of those people who goes around looking up at trees and birds and stuff so I don’t think those devices are for you anyway.

      I sure have a lot of pictures of the same thing!

  3. Sure good to read that life is still “life” at Fish In A Barrel Pond. Great review of the year, I could use some of that beautiful country, less the women that can’t sing. I would rather listen to the frogs.

    • Life is still an important part of what I am doing. You’d think the cold would keep the singing joggers away in the winter, but you’d be wrong. Bring on the frogs.

  4. Good stuff Quill! good to finally hear from you again! Happy New Year!

    • Howdy, Don. I’m glad to see you’re out and about, hitting the shows, and I assume you will be in this neck of the woods sometime this spring or summer …

  5. Nancy Spivey

    Beautiful pictures, as always.

  6. Tobin

    Finally. Nice to have you back. There might be a bunch of fishing blogs (375 or whatever) but the good ones are few and far between – or they only sustain the good stuff for a few posts. But bloused Spandex??? Not a good sign…..

  7. kengortowski441

    A long time ago as a boy scout, my dad, the leader, left us alone to do what ever we wanted. So we built a massive teepee out of railroad ties, took all day to collect, filled the teepee with branches and sticks and lit it. Forgot about how hot creosote burns. Couldn’t get within 50 feet of the thing when it was full blown and a guy camping a half mile away came by to see what the hell was going on. Amazing what a bunch of 15 year olds can do when left alone…

  8. Ms. Hetty Mae

    You know, you could just drop a tree on the power lines and surreptitiously unhook the car batteries of guests (keeps them from using the ubiquitous car charger) to discourage the use of electronic gizmos. However, the activity they choose to engage in in lieu of the gizmos will probably involve them pestering you for stemware.

  9. Access and coverage keeps expanding and getting better all the time so I should probably just accept it, but I can’t. Last year brought the first, second and third calls from a cell phone with requests (from a camp less than 150 feet away!) which at least was quieter than the usual yelling from the porch. I predict that this will be the year I start getting emails.

  10. This website certainly has all the info I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know
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