On Blogging Late in an Angler's Life
Here follows the substance of the last and final edition on paper of The Bouldercreek Angler-- after eleven years and forty-four numbers! In this last paper issue I proposed to divide the history of American fly fishing into six periods. I had thought to strike a blow for freedom. I wanted to get this idea of periods into circulation and possibly into accepted usage. It may well be an exercise in vanity, I admit to that; but I am now grown so old that I feel quite free to do anything I damn well please, even to presume to divide our sport into historical periods. I figured it needed to be done; so I did it, and mailed it out to my list of 150 good old, cherished readers. Somehow those 150 had always felt to me an adequate circulation of my vanities. They are a bunch of really excellent people.
And so here I am on this February 26, 2010, writing directly onto my new blog, for the first time and without the aid or interference of Microsoft Word. I feel stunned. I can't believe it. After the many entreaties from the mailing list to preserve the BCA on paper, its single little page of convenience and concision, it's difficult to change. I suppose it was inevitable that I should run out of the steam necessary to handling the paper mailing.
No surprise, then, that this blog was urged upon me. Helpers hurried to my assistance to get it up and underway. It leaves me a bit dizzy. Not only am I given a new lease on the life of my ancient-of-age writing, but it may just get this "periods" idea out to a much wider audience. But then, on the other hand, it's hard for me to believe that any but a "designated few" would ever slow down to do their reading off computer monitors.... Will they?
And, I can never forget that, like our beloved mayflies, our ephemera, this blog is as ephemeral as they come, here today, gone tomorrow, into the oblivion that must also be the destiny of our mammalian flesh. Still, as I write this essay, I feel suddenly and utterly free, free to write in any way that pleases me, for as long and as many words as ever I want-- and any way I damned-well please. And you, my reader, may read it or not as you please-- and at no charge in time or, as they say, treasure.
Ah, that infinite digital space! I get all excited as I write this. I think of Montaigne and how in the seclusion of his castle in France, almost 500 years ago, he invented the essay, and wrote what are the original and finest of them all. I rather think, that at this moment, I would have his blessing. He would say to me, "Let 'er rip! Go ahead, and don't spare the horses!" He would authorize me.
And so I write about what it is for an old man, who should know better, to try to change his life, turn it around in order to flog the notions, ideas, experiences that are his special burden. It becomes my privilege to so scatter them about on this blog. We old folks figure we have been around the block a couple times, have seen some things twice, and so stake our claim to a degree of authority,
God in heaven, but it is wonderful to write English sentences!
Those sentences allow me to dream of these six periods in the history of chucking flies, mostly to trout, but to any poor damned fish lucky enough to get the chance to strike at them. I am drawn into literary fantasies. As I plotted and laid out this chart of the periods, I thought of Long John Silver and the treasure map of Treasure Island, that fearsome chart. We are all like kids with maps of treasure in our heads, charts to follow at our peril to riches-- or death, or both. Not unlike the digital oblivion to which this piece must come.
Please, then, cherished old readers of that list of 150, if you by chance shall come upon this, allow me to carry on, messing around in this electronic way. Who knows? The oblivion of ideas is infinite, and in its strange waters may lie the best fishing after all.
I close now, recommending to you that simple, exquisite, lovely long, long rod, with its gossamer line fixed most elegantly dead-off at the top, for that ancient way of flicking a fly now here and now there, in the manner of Tenkara. It is a sign of newly dreamed of times, The New Period, into which we must go rejoicing-- or die, or both.