For my birthday I got the perfect gift from my wife, a Lie Nielsen 212 scraper plane. Now I realize I just wrote a whole long winded blog about using an antique Stanley. But I’m entrenched in the belief that birthday gifts should not be something that is a necessity, but rather what you would like and can’t find reason enough to buy yourself on a normal day. The plane is beutiful and it will see good use. I also need to make mention of my mother here. When she does read my blog she follows up with a call about me never mentioning her. “well Ma its a rod making and fishing blog, ya know?” Here it is mother. As far as gifts go, my mom always gave the best. She always suprised me. If it wasn’t something from my list her gifts were something she knew I would love and was always unique. At 29 she still gives me a gift, this year was cash, which will be Montana fund money. So there ya go Mother. Your big drop into the blog, my millions of readers are now aware of your lovely existence.
Thanksgiving and The Promised Land film. God damn what a year I have had. Just lucky, alot of things fell into place. Alot of of growth and learning, hope it keeps going smooth. On Thanksgiving my mother forces us to each go around the table and say what we are Thankful for. If I really wanted to I could have taken an hour listing all the good fortune I’ve had. But my brothers would make fun of me had I said anything but “good beers”. So thats how I left it. Then just a day later and I find myself watching this movie The Promised Land. Its not great, alot of bullshit but it really left me feeling happy for all that I have, and have had in my life so far. The movie is based on Fracking, and major companies snatching farm land from generation old farmers.
I grew up on a very small produce farm in South Jersey. My parents were not Famers. Its a large plot of land that my great grandparents took ownership of long before I was even a thought. Over the years and throughout this plot family memebers settled down. 7 houses in all today. (I’m, trying to give a short version of family history here). My Dad was lucky enough to inheret THE farmhouse of the property. MY great Aunt, uncle, and cousins still live in the other homes, all a few football fields apart with the outside world bordering the edges of the farm. All family, its not wierd. OK it sounds wierd but I assure no Inbreeding going on. Obviosuly this is true because I’m too good looking to be inbred.
That movie got me thinking about the farm, my family and how unique it all is. My farm or spot on the farm will never leave as long as I can stand it. Its ours, its what made me who I’am. I pray I can give my children the same experiience. From thinking about the farm I started thinking about my Grandfather. He had a massive heart attack while eating a pretzel months before I was born. He was in a coma for a few days before he passed.
Now I have failed most all my science courses in the past, so I dont know much about genetics. Somehow this man, whom I have never met has had such an impact on me. I’m sure that has alot to do with my father telling me stories. I can remember turning down cigerrettes in the 5th grade because I would ask myself what my grandfather would have thought of me. Which is ironic because he smoked, but how the hell did a guy I never met in the flesh influence me so much? Ill also never forget my dad telling me he was the guy that would volunteer to tie a rope around his waste and walk onto the pond ice, making sure it was thick enough to skate on. A daredevil, Pops probably should have never told me that one. But the good people say about him still to this day. The kidness, the patience, and the talent. Most importantly, the fishing and fly tying.
The only fishing I had done up until about 13 was bass fishing with gear. We would go to Maine some summers and my dad would help us fly cast for trout. He would tell us about his dad tying his own flies, his automatic reel and the brook trout.
From there, I got into fly fishing like most everyone else. The cool thing about it was I had my grandfathers copy of Trout by Bergman, and tied flies using his old Thompson vise. The obsession grew from there to what it is today. My grandfather was also a very good wood carver of ducks, geese, ect. Just recently with a small axe got the urge to carve a piece of driftwood I had found on the beach. It looks horrible, but impressive given I had no idea what I was doing and lost no fingers. It got me thinking I could really carve something mantle worthy. So I went to my uncles basement with my dad and found a piece of Basswood that was originally my grandfathers with the intention of carving a trout. What the hell am I doing? Its 2013, who carves wood? Frankly the similarities in hobbies between myself and my dead grandfather are starting to even wierd me out.
O.K. I rambled a bit. But I wanted to set the stage for my gift. The gift that is most cherished by me over anything I have ever received. My Uncle Jeff, my dads younger brother gave it to me one Christmas about 13 years ago. It was one of those gifts like mom would give. Something right up my alley, and something I’d never expect.
It was a box my grandfather made to hold his flies. And even cooler was the few remaining flies he had tied resting within the slots of the box. I can still remember what Jeff said when I unwrapped it, “now you can use it for what it was meant for.” I had no idea this box existed so receieving it was total shock. One of those hypothetical bar questions you get when trying to make conversation is always, “If your house was on fire and you can grab one thing, what would it be?” For me, its hands down the fly box.
I can’t tell you what type of wood its made from, or when he made it exactly. I just know somehow this man and I had hobbbies in common, hopefully Ill be good enough to posses the qualities he did as a man and a fly fisherman.
So ferrules, my next new shiny tool can all wait. I have family, and a legacy to keep me happy. Everyone does this corny What your thankful for BS around this time of year. Just bad timing on my part, my grandfather is a huge reason I fish and make rods. And his box just so happens to be a gift Ill never forget. Call me a sappy sucker. But read first line about my bar fight last weekend before you say it to my face. 🙂