Al Campbell, Field Editor

December 29th, 2003

The Year In Review
Al Campbell

With a new year on the near horizon, I always find it good to review the year that just passed. Wow, what a year! It wasn't all good; nor was it all bad. This was one of those years that will fill more than a few pages of the history books.

The year started much like any other year. We joked about cabin fever and a few people showed some serious symptoms of the ailment before January was closed out. I think that was a bit early to get stir crazy; but I have a lot more to keep me occupied than some folks, so I don't get the "fever" as quickly as some others do. Having plenty to keep you occupied is probably the best medicine for cabin fever I know of.

While we were fighting winter fever, another fight broke out in the Middle East, and that spilled over into our space. One of the things that makes FAOL a pleasant place to visit is the many varied backgrounds and opinions we all have. However, when those opinions run deep, there can be some rough times trying to get along. We had some rough times here, but I'd say they were fairly mellow compared to the times we had throughout the USA, or even the rest of the world.

Politics is always a good way to start a fight, and it was just that. There are a few regulars here who don't share the same political view as I have on certain subjects. In fact, some of what they said during that time cut deep into my core. However, I treasure the rights we have to disagree and express ourselves more than I do my personal feelings. Not everyone feels that way. We lost some good people along the way, and some of those were regulars here.

Because that was such a big struggle, and because we are, or should be better than that, I don't hesitate to block or remove a political fight from the bulletin board now. Kept within the guidelines, that bulletin board is one of the most dynamic fly-fishing forums anywhere. However, I learned the hard way this year that my freedom of speech stops at the feet of those who would be damaged by that speech. So does yours; so, the bulletin board rules are enforced a little bit stronger now than when the year started. The lesson was more than painful, but it was a lesson well learned. We also all need to learn how to tolerate divergent opinions better than we did this year.

Many of us had to contend with another year of drought while others were flooded out. It seems to me that this year was more a year of extremes than most years. Streams in my area dried up again while some folks couldn't fish unless they wanted to fish in a flood. Floods and droughts are part of nature and in some ways they are good for the planet. In many cases they serve to cleanse the soil of unwanted or unnatural invaders like weeds; but they also wreak havoc on the lives of many people and animals. Unless history is wrong, things will change in time. They always do. If you don't believe that, read about the droughts and floods of the past century. Most areas of the country had a few of both.

I didn't get to take my regular fishing trip to the Bighorn River this year. A big anniversary celebration for my parents and some heavy remodeling on my fishing buddy's house blocked that for the summer. In fact, the summer didn't provide a lot of fishing opportunities for me. It wasn't a total loss though. I did manage to take the first photograph of my new grandson when he was just a few hours old. I think I'll treasure that trip to the Bighorn more next year too.

Besides my fishing buddy's house, we undertook a huge remodeling job at work this year too. That consumed most of my normally free time from the first of September to the end of October. The work still continues on the friend's house and we are playing catch-up at work. If I only told you that, you might think I didn't get to fish at all, but that isn't the case.

I got to attend the Idaho Fish-In this year. I met new friends and had my spirit renewed in the waters of cold mountain streams. I shared moments with old buddies and new; and I enjoyed it as much as I possibly could in such a short time. It was like a breath of fresh air in a smoke filled room. I hope to do it again next year, but that too will be determined by the circumstances of the time.

A few of our heroes, friends and family members passed to the far shore this year. That happens every year, but some years seem to hit harder than others. Because life continues to flow, even with the passing of people we love and respect, I'm certain that others will step up to fill the shoes of those who no longer walk with us. We'll remember those who are gone and learn to treasure those who are with us. It will be that way because it has to be that way. Our time on this earth is limited and very dynamic. In time it will be our passing that others will have to endure. Teach them well, if you want them to continue the work you started.

So, another year is over and a new one is ready to begin. None of us knows what the new one will bring. We can hope for a better year than the one we just had, and I wish that for you; but the hard truth is that we don't know what we will face. I only know that if my ticket is good for another year, the way that year turns out will be dependent to a large degree on what I do and how I do it. Most of that will have something to do with my attitude, and attitude is something I can work on, so I have high hopes for the coming year. So should you. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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