Al Campbell, Field Editor

December 30th, 2002

Alas, the year is gone.
By Al Campbell

And what a year we had. We learned new things. We taught new things. We discovered new things. We created new things. We lived a world of new experiences.

At the same time, we enjoyed old friends. We practiced old customs. We remembered old times. We cherished old memories. We passed on old skills. We remembered old friends who have passed from our midst.

That's what the end of an old year and the start of a new year is all about. It's a link between our past and the boundless future. A time that connects what we have been to what we will become; we use it to store up memories and plan for new ways to make more. We make lists both ways; one for what we want to remember and another for what we plan to do.

What do you remember? Most of us have a mixed bag of memories to accompany each year. Some memories make us smile and wish we could do it all over again. Others might bring a tear to our eyes and make us wish we could go back and change something we said or did, or say something we carelessly forgot to say before it was to late to speak those words. Life is like that.

Here at Fly Anglers OnLine, we made a few memories of our own. We learned just how great Ronn Lucas can tie classic salmon flies. We learned who was funny and who was not. We debated serious topics on the bulletin board, laughed together on other less serious topics, and made a lot of new friends. We shared time together in several places, celebrating something we call a Fish-In. We learned to function as a family or fraternity. In a sense we became one with each other in the spirit of flyfishing.

We discussed fires and dry streambeds. We talked about floods and high water. We prayed together and hoped together for the sake of our friends, and we grieved together for those we lost along the way. We celebrated new toys, new friends, new skills, new loves and other new happenings like we had always been one big family. We invited others into the fold and asked them to join in the feast of information we all share. We even squabbled a bit, as all families do from time-to-time.

We cared and shared together like we had known each other all our lives; even though we had never seen the faces of some of those we were caring for. "Pull up a chair," and "pass the donuts," were common greetings we passed among our guests, hoping they would also find a home here. We mothered, fathered, coddled and cradled each other as needed, just to show we care. And, we do care, that's obvious. There is a reason we call this a big family.

We learned from each other, taught each other, shared skills and talents in a way that others only dream about, and we watched the family grow. The year that's passing by is one we won't forget, and a building block for future memories. Where else can you go to share what we have shared? Where can so many different people with so many different experiences from so many different places come together with one voice and one focus? We are fly-fishers all, and that is the common ground we share.

I have no doubt we will continue to grow if we stay on this course. We will learn new things, share new experiences, examine new ideas and all the while, we will be relating the old traditions with those who are new to this sport. In that common ground is the rich soil where great experiences can grow. And, we will grow if we continue to feed this experience with the food of our knowledge, and hunger for more of the nourishment the shared experiences can provide. How could we not grow?

As the new year starts, I want to join each of you in a prayer for your health, prosperity and growth. I'll share what I know, and hopefully learn from each of you as well. We'll learn together, teach together, celebrate together and mourn together as the situations demand, and as we do, we'll become better friends and better people. That's what a family is all about, and I'm proud to call this place home. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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