It’s not that the last few days have been particularly eventful – it’s just that little things have started to come together for my journey. The process is sort of like making stew … you research the recipe, do the shopping, prep the veggies and the meat, and add your seasonings. The broth’s added in the final stages. A little simmering and you have your stew.
For my particular “vagabond stew,” I’ve put my recipe together and have been occupied with shopping for all the ingredients. This week, some of the spices arrived. Sure, you can make stew without the spices – it’s just not going to be all that tasty!
I already mentioned that the SiriusXM stuff had arrived. I’ve been enjoying the speaker deck quite a bit, managing to listen to a few Grapefruit and Cactus League games. But on Tuesday, I finally got around to doing the car install! It was really much easier than I thought it was going to be … the dock is affixed to one of the air conditioning vents, with the power cord neatly tucked along the side of the center console and connected into the auxiliary power slot (I guess I’m going to have to make sure my cell phone is charged before I get in the car, unless there are inexpensive splitters available that would allow me to charge it while I’m using the Onyx Plus).
The unit broadcasts directly through the dashboard radio – I just have to tune both to a common channel and voila! I’m hearing about Mookie Betts’ blast hitting at the base of the Little Monster at Fenway South, Boston’s spring training facility in Fort Myers, FL. I didn’t even have to do an external installation on the antenna … it’s sitting in the window, right underneath the Azera’s inspection sticker. So spice number one’s been taken care of – after all, you can’t have a vagabond stew without a little entertainment!
A second spice arrived on Wednesday – my dark cherry wood hiking staff, courtesy of Down East Walking Sticks. I can’t fully express how happy I am with it. Nice and solid, it has a great feel in the hand. Barrie made it a little thicker than he usually does – like I said before, a big stick for a big guy! Frank and I gave it a test run over to the park and back and it helped my knees quite a bit. It’s going to really add “smoothing” and “balance” to the journey’s overall flavor.
Today I picked up a spice that I’ve never tried before. I got my first taste of fly fishing when I attended a full day course at a local angler’s shop. I have always wanted to learn to fly fish. Granted, I’ve done a lot of fishing in my life, mostly salt-water. The few times I’ve gone the fresh water route, it’s typically been for bass. But I’ve always heard that there’s something very “Zen” about fly fishing. Every time I’ve had an opportunity to give it a shot, fear and anxiety have gotten in the way, so I’m especially proud of myself that I managed to make it to the class today.
I actually did pretty well and there’s definitely a “yin-yang” approach involved. The keys are to maintain control while letting go (see how opposing those two ideas are?), and then letting your equipment do the bulk of the work. One maintains control over the wrist and arm: you move your arm rhythmically back and forth within a small arc without bending your wrist, all the while keeping your elbow on an even plane. You let go by trusting that you’re not having to add “oomph” in order to get the line out there – the rhythm of your movement, combined with speedy stops and starts at each end of the arc will take care of that. And once you “get it”, the fly line is front-weighted so that when it’s released, it basically pulls the rest of the line off the reel. I’m not going to say it’s easier than it sounds – at least it wasn’t for me because I’ve always had a hard time getting out of my own way and trusting (which was one of the reasons why i wanted to learn how to fly fish).
After a short while, I did “get” it! By the end of the session, I was consistently managing casts of between 70-80 feet without any excess line pooling on the ground along the way. What was really cool was picking out a leaf on the field where we were practicing and actually being able to land the end of the line within a couple feet of it. That really got me feeling “goosebumpy”!
I’m counting on this spice to add some body to the stew. Figuratively and literally … I really enjoy trout, especially when it’s cooked and eaten outdoors!
I didn’t buy a fly rod today … I wanted to hurry home to check on Frank. This is the longest he’s been by himself since he and I became companions and I was a bit anxious to see what he might have decided to taste” in my absence. He didn’t disappoint. Immediately inside the front door, I found Duck, fully decapitated with all his polyester stuffing strewn across the floor – his way of letting me know that he did not appreciate having to entertain himself for the bulk of the day. He’s sitting at my feet as I type and it seems like I’ve suddenly developed a new appendage. Every time I get up, he’s walking next to me with less than six inches separating the two of us (which is okay except for the two times I’ve turned suddenly to get something or other and have nearly fallen face-first over him! And here I thought I was the only one in the home having to deal with massive anxiety!)
Before signing off tonight, I’ve one thing to add. You’ve probably noticed all the food references. It’s my way of paying homage to another blog I’ve recently discovered: Empires, Cannibals, and Magic Fish Bones. I don’t really know how to describe the offering over there except to say that it combines four of my favorite things: good food, good drink, good literature and good music! Rather than try to explaining further (which would probably confuse you rmore), I suggest you head over and take a gander yourself! Today’s menu includes pork bellies, whiskey, the Appalachian Book of the Dead and Johnny Cash – yep, you read that right. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.