While it might be presumptuous to assume that
any of the dear devoted readers of FAOL actually
give a rip, I have to beg forgiveness.
I mean about the recent columns appearing on this
fine website. When I first contacted Deanna and
Jim Birkholm last spring after reading FAOL for
some time, I offered up a few samples of my work
with the explanation that, though I write two columns
a week for my newspaper, I didn't feel like I was
having the opportunity to write as much about fishing
as I would have liked. I have to appeal to a much more
broad audience in my newspaper writing, so I ramble on
about all manner of things from my calico kitty Patches
and my English springer spaniel Mocha to the price of
tea in China. You get the idea.
I am grateful and surprised by the reception this
little Indian off the Rez has received from the
FAOL'ers who have responded to my work. It is
gratifying, to say the least.
But here's where the forgiveness and giving a rip part
comes in. About a month ago, I started having a pretty
severe pain in my shoulder and upper arm. Now, I'm used
to occasional aches and pains, and figured it would pass,
thinking I had just strained it working on the house or
something. But it didn't pass, and within a week, I made
the association between a dull ache away from work, and
a searing, burning pain when at work using the computer,
particularly when I reached the house.
Of course, I knew the answer before I went to the tribal
clinic. Repetitive strain injury. I was prescribed Flexeril,
a muscle relaxant, a series of exercises and my employer
had already committed to making changes to my workstation
and environment to help. But such injuries don't happen
overnight, they are gradual and thus don't heal overnight,
Let me note here, that I took the Flexeril only one day.
By the time I survived that day, I swore off of it. I
was completely unfunctional. I was so dazed I couldn't
make sense of anything I was doing. I rarely take
medication, even headache relief, but I'll never
take Flexeril again, I tell you.
But the worst thing about this problem is I can't cast.
Hurts like the dickens. Even steering the boat is painful.
So the long and short of it is, I haven't been writing
about a lot of fishing because I haven't been doing any
Oh, one day I couldn't stand it any longer and took
off for the lake. Four casts had me wincing, ten had
me groaning and fifteen had me packing up and heading
home, cussing wildly. It's miserable. Though being
unable to fish is the worst of it, I also can't get
into the workshop to continue building that John
Gardner sixteen-foot skiff I started, of which I
have only finished the transom. Sleeping is difficult,
too, making matters worse.
The good news is that the exercises and the
environmental changes I've made - and the reluctant
taking it easy - have helped, and I think I'm on the
road to recovery. It's really not an operable condition,
and I'm thankful for that, too, because hospitals and
doctors with sharp instruments make me shriek. I hate
to shriek in public, it's embarrassing, and often
mistaken for a war cry.
I am about three weeks away from my fortieth birthday.
I never believed all that preaching about, "Just wait
until you hit forty, boy, you'll fall apart over
night." I'm starting to think I might have been
wrong, but then, the average age the menfolk in
my family live is seventy-five. By that scale,
I'm more than halfway done already, so I guess
I'm doing okay after all.
So I'm begging forgiveness, if in fact you actually
give a durn. I'm not so brash as to assume my shortfalls
in writing actual, "I went fishing this weekend," columns
will bring anyone's world crashing down around their
heads, with the possible exception of my own.
But I've gotten pretty comfortable and happy here
at FAOL, credit due to the kindness I've received
from you fine folks. When one finds such a comfortable
spot, they tend to get cranky, jealously guarding it.
That's how I am with "Native Waters."
I hope to be fully recovered by the time the fall
fishing kicks into gear around here. In the meantime,
I hope you'll join me as I share a few memories of
past angling adventures, and come with me to explore
some of my native waters, as well as the lands
around them. I hope you'll accept an invitation
to meet a few folks I think you'll find interesting,
and share a bit of my lineage going back several
millennia. There's always water flowing in each
of these chapters, always the ebb and tide of
native waters. From the back end of dark canals
to the quiet mystery of old villages and darting
spirits half-seen in the cypress stands, I'd be
honored if you'd take a detour with me during my
convalescence. We'll come back around to the long
rod and the bluegill and bass soon enough.
Nea'se. Thank you, then, in advance, for sharing
my ramblings, my waters and my road. ~ Roger