Making memories and friendships
the seasons they go round and round."
By Clive Schaupmeyer
Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar...
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.
From "The Circle Game" by Joni Mitchell ©1966
It's Valentine's Day and the Canada geese will start returning any day
The return of geese each spring marks the beginning of another year.
Yes, I've already had my 1999 fly-fishing opener on the Crowsnest River,
but the geese herald the true beginning of yet another season. For 30 years
I've watched Canada geese return to southern Alberta, and leave again in
the autumn, as they pass through the cycles of their lives. . . their own
Lot's has happened to me in these 30 years that I have watched the geese
come and go. Most of it's pretty damn fine, and I have many great memories
of the seasons as they've gone round and round for me.
As I get older, the passing days, months and years are more important
because, with each passing moment, fewer and fewer of them remain. Sure
there's the saying, "The time spent fishing is not deducted from a person's
life on earth." But the reality is that time is passing and the seasons
come and go. But the passing of time is not an unhappy phenomenon. On the
contrary, the passing of time lets us accumulate memories and develop strong
bonds with fishing partners.
As I see it there are at least four reasons to fish: the anticipation,
the actual experience, the memories, and the friendships we develop as
the seasons come and go. If it were not for the memories of our experiences
and the bonds we develop, why would we fish?
Our fly-fishing lives can be enhanced by fishing with anglers who are
both younger and older than ourselves. It works for me. I am 51 years old.
In recent years I have fished with young folk and marvel at their enthusiasm.
I am happy for the decades of fly-fishing they have ahead of them. My senior
fishing partner for the past few years has been John Tunstall. He's nearly
20 years my senior and has taught me a lot about life. But most importantly
John and I have had great times together.
We've caught our share of hard fighting, beautiful trout in some of
Alberta's Blue Ribbon rivers and streams. But we've also sat on banks above
streams and drank coffee, ate sandwiches and laughed while fish rose below
us. Knowing that if they quit before we got there they'd likely be there
tomorrow. And we've drank bad coffee and great home-made soup while hunkered
around chrome and Formica tables in roadside cafes full of ranchers–our
waders dripping on worn linoleum floors. Memories.
John is the most unselfish person I have ever known. I hope some of
it has rubbed off on me and perhaps I can pass on some of his unfailing
generosity to younger folks. Following is an excerpt from a story I originally
wrote many years ago that tells of his nature. John and I had been scouting
a new stretch of a unfished, remote section of river and we were certain
we were about to hit it big.
. . . I looked back over my left
shoulder and saw the smallest of rises. Had I looked a second later it
would have been gone. This was not one of those "car-hood- sized" rises
we've all read about that ripple on the surface for seconds. These were
the smallest rings. . .
"Hey, John, there's a rise near the bank, upstream. I think
it's just a small fish. It may not have been a fish at all. The rings were
awfully small." The fish rose again, and again.
"You give him a try, I've got a hopper on, and he's taking
something smaller. Midges or blue-wing olives or something in the film,"
John must consider it his obligation to let me have first
crack at a fish or run.
"No. No. You're closer than me, and I haven't got a fly tied
on," he replied, even though he was only four feet farther instream, and
as it turned out I had to tie another fly on anyway. . .
After two casts it was clear this fish was not eating hoppers
today—at least not mine. . .
John insisted that I continue to try for this trout. What
could I say? So I tied on a small Antron Adams. . . The first cast with
the new fly and 'plip.' Just a sip, and the fly was gone. I'll spare you
all of the line-to-the-backing details, but the female rainbow measured
an honest 22 inches and would have weighed well over 3 pounds. I should
have talked to John about being so obliging.
The days with John are among my many favorite fishing memories–as important
as fishing with our two boys when they were growing up. John and I have
had the very best times together and neither of us would have missed our
trips for the world.
As your seasons go round and round, expand the magnitude of your experiences
and memories by fishing with fly anglers both younger and older. You will
be rewarded as I have been.
So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through.
And the seasons go round and round. . .
Thanks to Joni Mitchell for the words in her song, The Circle Game.
~ Clive Schaupmeyer
Closing thought: To make a man happy for an
hour, get him drunk; kill a pig and feed him, and he will be content for
a day; marry him to bring him pleasure for a few days; but, for a lifetime
of happiness, teach him to fish. Old Chinese saying.
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