Capt. Gary Henderson, Florida

December 6th, 2004

Paid In Full

By Captain Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson

Pull up a chair and have a seat; I need to talk to you for a minute or two.

I've been thinking about a question someone asked me the other day. "Do you get paid to write this column?" It put me to thinking about payments. So, I just looked up and smiled, and answered, "Yes." Here's my answer to the question...

Some of you know that I'm a retired, stained-glass artist. I'm not talking about those little light catchers, or the "easy-bake" stuff. No, I'm talking about custom glasswork, original and very expensive windows, doors and free-hanging art. Yep, I got paid a lot of money to do those pieces, and I was proud to deliver each and every one of them. Here's the part I need to explain. On four different occasions, I brought tears of joy to the folks that commissioned me to do their certain piece. The emotions that were brought to the surface, well, that reward came unsolicited and far outweighed the monetary conclusion. Priceless.

Several months ago, I wrote an article entitled, "Ancestor". I mentioned Roger Stouff's writings and how they relate so eloquently to his rich, Native American heritage. I asked for Roger's opinion on the piece and sent it to him before I sent it to Deanna. Roger, in his own words of wisdom, sent me an email disagreeing with me. Here's a quote from our own Roger Stouff to me...

"I have to disagree with you, most respectfully. You are descended from a long and proud lineage. You are the latest in a series of lives culminating in yourself. That pallet from which you spring is the kinship of seers. Seers and believers.

Your brothers and sisters are all around you. Many more folks, like me, who are like you. We see what is behind things. Most folks look out at the water and see only the surface. We see what is beneath, what is far beyond our vision, what will be ahead when the water continues its ceaseless movement across the face of the earth."

I have a great respect for Roger and his talent. I hope he doesn't mind me sharing a personal moment with you. These important words hit me in the heart, and brought a lump to my throat and a mist to my eyes. What a complement! Just words, hardly, they are feelings that stirred my emotions; words that will be imbedded in my soul, forever. You see, another payment in full, to me at least. Priceless.

Dave Micus:

I speak with Dave regularly on the phone. We share commonality in a sense. We are brothers of the salt, and even though we've never met face to face, that will happen one day. I'm sure of it. We kid around with each other a lot, and we do so on the board as well. All in good fun. We share stories most every week before you read them, and we "bounce" off of each other in thoughts and storylines. Dave is really the one that got me started writing for this site. His encouragement, well, priceless.

Without an ounce of boastfulness, I receive emails and postings on this board referring to some of the stories I write. Some of my writings find me reflecting on past life experiences. Some sad, some humorous. I try to keep them close to me for the most part, and when I receive a comment from you that a certain story brought back a day in your memory that made you tear up, or laugh, or reminds you of something someone said that meant a special something, well, then I've fulfilled a promise I made to you in my introduction. Those comments are appreciated more than you may ever know. They are my payment in full. Priceless.

The old cabin is the most important, though. Here is where we gather.

There is a cabin somewhere that is invisible, but very, very touchable. It sits on the bank of a wide, flowing river that bares many names. Its warmth ever-present, stoked by those that frequent it. The sun always sets on the back porch of this cabin, where old, oak rockers wait to be filled. Old trees seem to keep the front porch cool in the mornings and early afternoons. The large, stone steps leading up three tiers are a little worn from all of its visitors, and the front, screened door is never locked. To the north, the river branches into creeks and streams, disappearing into deep and silent woods where some gather at times to cast dry flies and nymphs at sipping trout. Old and mossy, fallen logs are used by these folks to rest and trade stories and flies and friendship. A ceremony fire burns there; a place most comfortable; a home.

To the south, over the rise, are two oceans that are far apart, but yet connected by lines and leaders and friends, and the rivers and lakes that feed them. And looking closely at all this, you will find me among you and you among my thoughts. It is where I often find stories to tell, here within these cabin walls.

I've met you face to face, and I've met you as I read deeply into stories you tell. The bare and wooden floors of the cabin creak in protest sometimes, but never for long. It has to live within itself, also.

Three weeks ago, five of us ended up on a strip of sand in west Florida to share stories and food and laughter, as we fished in salty waters. We met in that old cabin not too long ago, and if that old cabin hadn't have been there, the circle would have never formed. That's pretty powerful stuff, isn't it? Priceless.

This is the season of giving thanks and for families to gather. There's no price on that... it's priceless.

So, it's my turn...

Thanks for everything FAOL!

Happy Holidays, you are priceless.

See y'all next week. ~ Capt. Gary

About Gary:

Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area. After moving a little closer to the coast, his interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."

He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the waters will ever be present.

Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater patterns in the early '90's and has participated as a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting and tying instructor and stained glass artist, creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.


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