Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wendell Berry, Port Royal, KY

I've paused a bit on Mr. Berry's fiction and gone back to essays recently. One that I read today was particularly impactful, and I felt an urge to share a few paragraphs. Pardon any copyright issue here... If WB had his say, he wouldn't fault me for sharing the words without his permission, as he has said openly that not he nor anyone can own words or art. He would however, take issue with the use of the computer to share the text (he writes all his work on a 1956 Royal Standard typewriter - more than 40 books have passed through that man-powered machine).

Here he picks up this oft used expression of "governing least" and endorses it... but pushes a little further to discuss what is expected and required of individuals who wish to live in a little-governed society: responsibility. This general concept is thrown around a lot, and I hear it attached to Jefferson and other founding fathers. You have to think that they meant what Berry says here... they would indeed be disappointed to hear their concept of small government simplified and bastardized into a catch phrase used by people who basically think they should be free to do what they want regardless of consquences to the greater community.

Good piece here, on "an ethic that can be clarified in a column of figures."

Great writing here on the fact that in our age, "what were once private acts become public."

Community, defined:

And this is what really got me... a discussion of an ideal community. Something that I've not had the opportunity to even lose or walk away from, because I've never been part of one. I'm not sure if anyone is part of one today (here he is referencing rural farming communities of days gone by).

This is what marks a good author I think - a voice for The People. Someone who says what you want to say, better than you could ever say it. When you complete a paragraph or an essay and you think Yes - this is it - he has hit it dead on center, or you find that you have teared up on a public transport because the text rings so true.

Anyway - back to the content below. I believe that people want to be part of communities. We don't want to be close in vicinity only... specialists going about our daily lives and tracking our numbers and driving our cars. Good God, who would voluntarily and purposefully take on a life like that? We're bound to a system though - bound by fear and a lack of confidence. We're on a big, industrial train going forward... and folks are afraid to jump off.

These excerpts are from an essay called The Loss of the Future. I've noted that the book that includes it - The Long Legged House - is available at Hamilton Bookseller for a bargain price of $4.95 (down from $14.00). You can also view the Google Book here.

Give it a read. Crushingly good. Mr. Berry is a superb author, and he is best at showing us how we ought to conduct ourselves.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2009 SE MN Fly Swap

Approximately 24 flies were tied, of which 14 (the number required for the swap) are decent. I may do a few more with slight modifications. I'm playing around with John Montana's Wilted Spinach pattern - trying different soft hackle feathers, different threads, etc. The starling is good for #20-22, while the grouse is good for #16-18 it seems. I've also tied some with just a split-tail of flash, and some with John's twin loops of the stuff. I like all the variations.

After reading some John Gierach the other day, I got it in my head to try the red-thread-on-hook fly that he speaks highly of... So I turned out a few overly simple but very deadly looking "flies" (if you can call them that). Nothing too cool here, but I will guarantee you 100% that these will absolutely crush in the SE when trailed in a tandem rig. The peacock on hook deal is a #16 and the red thread monster is a #22. I'll pinch the barbs and cement them all at once when I'm done with the lot. The only note on these is that I think you should leave the thread at the back of the peacock fly, wind the peacock forward, then work the thread over the peacock to the front... toughen it up a bit so a trout tooth doesn't undo the whole deal. Nice easy patterns that will catch fish.
Eco-Fugitives List Produced by FBI

Give this a quick read.

I've always been extrememly bothered by the fact that crimes against The Commons so frequently go unpunished, or at best receive token attention.

We are set up to protect individuals and their rights and property... and those clearly trump the rights and property of the public. A number of folks have, over the years, acknowledged that this is the fundamental and core roadblock to natural resources conservation efforts.

If somebody busts your window and steals your TV, he gets the book thrown at his ass in pretty prompt fashion. A mile away, some dude could be stripping all the veg off his steep slope, and thus setting up to pour hundreds of tons of soil in the neighborhood trout stream. The former is a crime against a private individual, and the object is a material item. The latter is a crime against the public, that could potentially detract from positive experiences of hundreds to thousands of people over time... not to mention the fact that it could destroy millions of bugs and fish - both actual and potential.

Thinking about what these "eco-fugitives" have done... I hope that when they are caught they don't get sentences like "ten years in prison with nine suspended and intense probation and an order to avoid vicinity to any toxic waste or pollution hazard." Throw the heavy book at those fuggers. Make them pay for their profit-mongering that was at the expense of The Commons. If Plaxico Burress can get 4 years in jail for carrying a handgun to show off to women and/or protect himself, those dicks should get at least triple that for what they've done.

If we want to get serious about conservation, we have to protect the public inheritance with some backing. It has to be a priority. It can't be the used-to-date-in-this-country approach of "We'll protect what we can, so long as we don't infringe on folks' private property rights." The old "it's my land so I can do what I want" is out the door. It's a fossil philosophy that has no place (maybe I should say a limited application) in a true community. We need a better balance between protection of private and public. Back to the topic here then, these MFs need to be tracked down and put away. They made money by loading a burden on our backs, and that is not right. Farewell to them, and may they drink tainted water and suck exhaust from the very pipes of their illegal motor vehicles.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Dream Fish Idea #1: The Golden Mahseer

A friend handed me a copy of The Drake the other day. He said if you subscribe to one fly fishing magazine, it should be this one. Flipped through and my initial take was that that was probably a true statement. Looked pretty cool - good substance, fewer frilly adds maybe. Best part was that it says in the top right corner, with respect to price:

five bucks
(ten bucks for bait fishermen)

Good chuckle there.

Anyway, one of the snippets was a pic and brief caption of a Golden Mahseer. It was touted as "The World's Biggest Carp." A tagline like that demands attention, and thus some Googling was completed.

According to India Angling the word Mahseer means "The Big Mouth." Right on there. They go on to describe it as a coldwater fish... kind of portraying it as a trout-like buglemouth. Its geographic range is a subset of the rivers that have their sources in the Himalayas.

Trip to India should occur. It could be a multi-purpose trip. Culture, history, food, hiking and fishing. Sign me up.

Anyway - Google around a bit and read up on this cool fish. I need to study a bit more myself.

Go here for more on that tagline from The Drake and the story of the guy who landed a 27 lber on the fly. His claim is that "you'll have a difficult time finding a harder fighting freshwater fish anywhere."

Another article that discusses fly fishing for the GM.

One final note is that "Fishing is stictly prohibited during monsoon as it is the breeding time for the fish." No problem complying there it would seem.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Quest for Venison

The legends were in place:

If you want [it], you'll have to get up before day.
"Well then I'll get up before day." - Old Jack Beechum, paraphrased

View from the stand - looking down the draw (I sat in this stand and did not exit once from 0600 to 1500 on Saturday, and again from 0615 to 1100 on Sunday):

Didn't see a single deer to shoot at, so I got up and stalked around on top of the ridge. Ten minutes into that, I kicked up two does - they had been bedded down just ~50 yards east of me on the ridgetop. Needed a buck though, and I only saw their flags waving at me anyway. I'll tell you this: the landscape is unsurpassed. Big River could be seen from the stand looking east. To the south, the mouth of the Whitewater River snaked through the last of its valley. To the north I could see across to the next ridge over. To sit up there, deer or no, was truly a privilege and I'm thankful to the folks who granted me passage. Here are a couple shots looking out from the top:

On the second day, three more does were jumped up to me at the top of the draw. Never did see a buck (lottery area, and I wasn't a winning ticket). As Sunday wore down, I took to sitting in a few different places and watching and listening for a while at a time. I saw three different woodpeckers (pileated, downy, red-bellied), brown creepers (first time I've ever been able to watch that bird), chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches and bald eagles. As a final salute I captured this portrait of a somewhat-forlorn but very-at-peace hunter staring out at The Driftless.