July 2nd, 2007

Va ca tion
By James Castwell

Well, that's the way I learned to spell 'vacation.' I remember it from way back in grade school. I can still see the teacher, the room, the other kids and learning the word. It was a bit like a song or a jingle maybe. It had a sort of melody and cadence to it. Va Ca Tion. I also remember how proud I was of myself at the time. I think it was the first grade, but I may be wrong.

So, anyway, we are going on one. I guess I need one, but this is not all that hard, just steady. Mostly it is rewarding and fun. Perhaps like the saying in France, "Why should I go on vacation, I'm already here?" But, it is usually said in French.

We met a fine group of folks last year and will get to know even more this time too. The location is the best lodge on one of the best stretches of the main stream of the world famous Au Sable river. The place called the 'Holy Water.' Rather prophetic name I suppose; to say it is revered would be an understatement.

The fishing is some of the most exemplary trout fishing in the world, the stream is typical yet unique at the same time. Cedars, sweepers they are called, edge the stream, often lazing gently out at an angle shading and cooling the waters and hiding the citizens living in their shadow. I have read more than a few pages of angling works while leaning back on a curving trunk and letting the sounds of the water drown out the others noises of the world. I will spend one more week at this place.

I met my wife here. We were married here. It's one of the places I mentally drift off to when some occasion necessitates. Yet reality can be cruel and over the years the place has changed, probably for the best, but I would argue the point. Fortunately my memory still provides fairly crisp images of the places here. Snapshots of the bends, log jams, runs, ripples, rises, rip-rap, stream improvements, fish caught and fish not caught. And the people.

Most valuable are those I met during the seasons spent learning to fly fish. From my first tries in front of the Green Cabin pool, when I actually stayed at the cabin, to the summers on the South Branch of the Au Sable at Canoe Harbor, back to Keystone Landing and the various side trips to other sections of the famous waterway, it was those I got to know that were of the most value.

My life was shaped by them. Their influence, for the most part good, formed my life then and into the future. I would not be writing this now, had it not been for them. Some of them were even famous at the time, others went on to become famous but most just went on to become fly fishermen. It was a time of my life over which I had seemly no control. It simply was what it was. I do not remember making many decisions or choices, even marriage. That was certainly no choice whatsoever, not when I met Deanna.

I do know I met some of the best people ever to cast a long rod. Quality seemed to be a common thread which tied them all together. Yet, not one of them used the same equipment or fished the same way. Each had his own methods to catch trout, but all had the same ethics. Those were the best of times. Perhaps for each of us.

Some have gone on now. Others I have lost contact with but really do think of very often, alive or not, they are still in my mind. How can I forget folks like them. I don't. Sometimes they influence me still. Something they may have said in a passing comment, I grabbed and have hung onto all these years. My mind plays their tapes over and over. Good times, fun times, intense moments, times of love, times of frustration, and just simply times. The times of my life were there. That is why I am going back this year. My home waters. In some ways, I have never left. How can I go on vacation when I am already there? ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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