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1000 Words + 1 Picture

Startled awake by who knows what, Quill Gordon came-to face-down at his fly-tying bench. Slowly, he realized the wail he heard was not banshees at the door, just cold wind in the chimney. In the thin, feeble light of dawn, on the first day of the new year, he saw in his hand a Mason jar, the one in which he stored head cement thinner, now empty. Belching, he came to grips with the fact that, apparently, he had consumed the entire contents, no doubt in some sort of shack nasty-induced rage.

Shaking off a shaggy coating of cobwebs and dust, he sat up. Clipped deer hair covered the floor like whiskers in a sink. Afraid it might not actually be deer hair, and fearing the influence of such volatile fluids as blackberry flavored head cement thinner, he felt with his hands for his beard. It was festooned with hackle feathers but, much to his relief, largely intact, though noticeably grayer and longer than he remembered, as if an entire decade had passed.

Disoriented as to both place and time, he shook off more dust, looked again at the empty jar and said to himself, “I don’t know what they put in this stuff but that was one hell of a dream.”

He’d dreamed a world where he was surrounded by nothing other than nature and scenery and fly fishers, all day every day. He did not dream of being named Worldwide Guide of the Year, ten years running. He did not dream of flying in helicopters to bake mini soufflés for taimen anglers in Mongolia or even vacuuming shuttle vans in Montana.

No, the world Quill dreamed was full of fly fishing traditions and fellowship in the embrace of Nature. In fact, it practically overflowed with Nature, and everywhere he looked there was scenery. As for fly fishers, he was up to his elbows in anglers and some of them had been coming around for 80 years. In pursuit of the mythical ideal of fly fishing’s Golden Age, those anglers had become an eclectic lot. Why, some were perfectly content to bake their own mini soufflés — as long as the camps had enough ramekins and appropriate stemware.

Their lake became a familiar friend, and its trout worthy adversaries, as time flowed by. Eruptions of midges after ice-out, mayflies flitting in June’s solstice dusk, and late summer ant falls marked the days as season after season slipped past. Late one Sunday afternoon (so no one would be around to see he was fishing), Quill Gordon cast a #14 red Humpy near the base of an ancient bank-side hemlock for what must have been the 1,000th time and, for the 999th, it was taken by a trout.

Quoting Theodore Castwell, he said, “Hell.”

A leech pattern over a big rock pile brought much the same response, as did a tiny little Pheasant Tail nymph into the skeleton of a downed birch. Fishing the same tussock over and over again was in danger of losing its luster.

But no one ever questioned Theodore Castwell’s worthiness to wield a fly rod and Quill’s dream took a turn toward the surreal when someone wondered aloud if he deserved to be fishing. He dreamed he was so upset that he called his mother and she was devastated by what he told her. She thought he’d been playing piano in a Montreal whorehouse and the fact he was involved with fly fishers nearly broke her little heart.

Quill dreamed he took solace in activities like cleaning bacon grease from septic filters and seeing to fishing camp things like lemon zesters and melon ballers — he even learned to tell the difference between a glass for red wine and one for white — but, somewhere along the line, someone called “bullshit”, someone else called it right back, and then things got really weird. The dream acquired a soundtrack and Clint Eastwood started singing. That was followed by fat Elvis and eastern Europeans with outrageous pompadours doing Led Zeppelin.  Then, with Harpo swinging from a light fixture, Groucho Marx sang on a circus train, so Quill cut the grassSalvador Dali and a giant singing clown appeared and, after that, all he remembered was some guy named Natty Bumppo and swarms of baby spiders before waking up.

It was one hell of a dream.

Or was it?

For the last 10+ years we’ve been playing around on these pages, relating the fictional exploits of Quill Gordon, the fictional Caretaker of The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, a fictional fly fishing club. A small, non-fictional lake has stood as visual proxy — an avatar of sorts — for the place known as Fish in a Barrel Pond and a small pencil sketch of a perplexed moustache has served as the avatar for Quill Gordon. That small lake shall remain unnamed, out of respect for the privacy of others, but most anyone with a search engine and a couple of minutes to spare can figure out of whose imagination Quill Gordon is a figment.

As the possessor of that imagination and as the newly former Caretaker of an old New England fly fishing club, I find myself living nearer the summit of Nonesuch Mountain, in the woods, at the end of the road, considering what comes next. With eleven seasons of All Anglers All the Time under my belt, I’m sure just the debriefing alone would hold some value to certain sectors of the fly fishing industry. Or, maybe, a memoir of sorts, like one of those early 20th Century explorers, returned from life among the cannibals?

I do know this: Just as surely as Rip Van Winkle bowled nine-pins with the crew of the Discovery and Sparse Grey Hackle was once yelled at and beat up by a trout, Fish in a Barrel Pond and the members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society are always just a jar of head cement thinner away.

Not exactly Brigadoon, but closer to it than we thought.

Tight lines, wubbas

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A Correction and an Earworm

I stand corrected. It is not, as I wrote in my previous post, the town of Glocca Morra that mysteriously appears every 100 years. As anyone who has not had three glasses of whisky knows, it is Brigadoon.

This error was delicately pointed out on my Facebook page by a dedicated reader and friend who not only called me “dude” but also suggested a Lerner and Loewe marathon as penance.

The post in question has been corrected, of course, but this penance thing might be going too far. Isn’t it enough to have had “How Are Things In Glocca Morra?” stuck in my head for three days? Must I also suffer the repetition of tunes from musicals like “My Fair Lady” and “Paint Your Wagon”?

Never mind the fact that I already do.

Making mistakes is a part of life. Owning up to, and correcting them, is the right thing to do but this situation also presented me with the opportunity for some seriously manly introspection. In this case, such manly introspection was facilitated by a walk in the woods and, as fate would have it, another Lerner and Loewe song got stuck in my head.

Mark Twain, in “Punch, Brothers, Punch”, suggested that the best way to get rid of an earworm was to transfer it to someone else. With that in mind, I am happy to share that song with you, featuring Clint Eastwood, walking in the woods and doing some seriously manly introspection of his own (after the ad, of course).

You’re welcome.

 

 

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Spreading Something Other Than Ugly

An inquiry regarding a mayfly photo last summer triggered a furious search, which is ongoing. The photo in question resides among some 10,000+ images I’ve taken over the past few years, which someone is finally taking the time to catalog, tag and edit. At least a thousand pictures weren’t worth any words at all, other than “delete” because they were so hopeless but, even at my most ruthless, thousands more have thus far been spared.

That particular mayfly hasn’t been cataloged yet but many others have been and it’s only a matter of time before I find it again. After all, what good is a photo if you can’t find it? And what good are hundreds of others if no one is going to see them?

The answer, of course, is that they are no good at all.

I could dole them out, one at a time, on a blog that is updated sporadically at best, but that would take years; I could post them here in big batches, sure to overwhelm while serving no particular purpose; I could just leave them where they are, the way they are, and do nothing at all.

Or, I could spend some frigid mornings and long, dark winter nights building a place to hold some of the best pictures I’ve got, where anyone and everyone can see them, any time they want.

A place like Nonesuch Mountain Images.

Five galleries are up, with additional images and galleries to come. All images are copyrighted. Larger (printable) file sizes are available for purchase as licensed digital downloads for personal or professional use.

You might notice there are no (visible) identifiers or watermarks displayed. Heck, there’s even a little button to click if you want to share them with someone else. Please do. There is plenty of ugliness in the world so why not spread a little something else? Just remember they’re mine and at least link back or give credit where credit is due, please.

Clicking a photo below will whisk you away to that photo’s gallery page at

Nonesuch Mountain Images

How about a gallery of mayflies (which will always be one image short until I find the one that started all this)?

Sulphur Dun, Nonesuch Mountain Images

Maybe some loons?

Loon Looking Silly, Nonesuch Mountain Images

Dragonflies and Damselflies are always interesting…

Green Darner, Nonesuch Mountain Images

There will be additions, but here are some of the rare and more unusual wild flowers I come across:

Purple Fringed Orchid, Nonesuch Mountain Images

Purple Fringed Orchid, Nonesuch Mountain Images

It won’t be long before the sap starts to run and the arches are fired-up for another sugaring season. More pictures! More syrup!

Late-Day Steam, Nonesuch Mountain Images

Late-Day Steam, Nonesuch Mountain Images

It used to be called “shameless self-promotion” but it’s called “branding” now, I guess. Nobody’s offered to cough up 17-million dollars to put my name on their building yet, so words and pictures are about all I’ve got.

Enjoy.

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“Some are born anglers; others have anglers thrust upon them.”

“Some are born anglers; others have anglers thrust upon them.” ~Quill Gordon

The summer season is upon us and millions of people are hatching plans for a little recreation, adventure, and a chance to be closer to nature. The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond is dedicated to those who work hard so they can play hard in the Great Outdoors but it is especially dedicated to those who take care of them when they get there.

Here’s to the guides and drivers and pilots and the people who keep the roofs on. Here’s to the guys and gals who keep the water flowing properly (both in and out). Here’s to those who handle the reservations and scheduling. Here’s to the folks who make the beds and wipe whiskers from the sinks. Here’s to the outfitters, medical staff and rescue teams, the dish washers and cooks and the guys who clean septic filters. Here’s to the people who bang the nails and turn the wrenches, stock paper towels and stack wood. Here’s to the people who try their darndest to make things as right as possible when things don’t quite go as planned, dust everyone off and move on. Here’s to those who pick up the trash, fold the towels and clean unmentionable messes.

To everyone who works hard so others can play hard (or at least pretend to), here’s to you. Continue reading

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Does Having a Blog Entitle You to a Book?

(Aspiring novelists should back out now. Hire an editor and maybe a mental health professional is about all the advice I can offer.)

A self published book does not need to make you rich and famous to be successful unless, of course, riches and fame are your goals. And even if you work your fingers to the bone — designing and editing and marketing — your book still might not find an appreciative audience and all you’ll have to show for it is bony fingers.

You already have bony blogger fingers and an appreciative audience of readers. Why not make a book? Even if you don’t have a blog, you can make a book of anything you want. Continue reading

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Halfway Through the Season

I am willing to admit that, when a man uses “finger quotes” for the fifth time, explaining why the “rules” don’t apply to him, a quick left jab to the nose may not be the best response, even if it seems perfectly appropriate at the time.

I am also willing to admit that, when on the way to stupid, pain-in-the-ass, court-ordered anger management classes, taking it out by swerving into a group of young turkeys on the shoulder of Route 5 might come across as a tad offensive to some.

I will even concede that, when a real judge suggests a little “cooling off and drying out time,” a stay at Detox Mansion might not be such a bad idea, even if it might mean doing yard work with Liza Minnelli.

Each of those statements is true but none are applicable to this season at Fish in a Barrel Pond (so far). No one has been punched in the nose (yet) or been to court and ordered into behavior modification, no turkeys were harmed in the making up of this nonsense and, I assure you, Quill Gordon’s Steel-Toed Drinking Shoes remain laced, all the way to the top.

The ice went out and the loons returned. The large black and white aquatic birds came back, too. It’s been all anglers, all the time, following pretty much the same script as every year, except for the 18 hours I spent spiraling in the vortex of airport Hell that is United Airlines in Houston, or being struck by the thought that I, of all people, could arrive late, find my way through a throng of thousands from one terminal to another in Chicago, and catch a flight with just seconds to spare while a man from (name any city) can barely find his way around an old camp in Vermont measuring 20′ x 20′.

Six times in the last 12 weeks posts have been started and not finished, leaving three people wondering what might have happened to Quill Gordon. The truth involves discussing feelings and emotions and such so, when people ask, I just let them go on thinking I’ve been raking leaves with Liza.

lucky1

Lucky, I guess.

Continue reading

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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:

IMG_0406

 

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Of an Evening

dusk3

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