Hatchlings, Levon Helm, and fishing through the pain
Thank you Matt- loved this, as both a pastor and a very beginning fly-fisherman. Wonder if you are a David James Duncan fan? Different politics I imagine, but The Brothers K and The River Why are favorite books of mine. Thank you for blessing us with your gift.
Tiffany box colored birds and Levon - twice! Lovely squared. Thank you.
That second Levon Helm video reminds me of Johnny Cash singing his cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AHCfZTRGiI
In both cases, we know what's coming for both men, and we're helpless to stop it. And still we watch.
And, my copy of “Riverman” just arrived from Amazon. Did not place at bottom of To Be Read stack, but on top - next up! Read the prologue and it was almost enough to make me set aside current read and dive right in. See what you’ve done, Matt?
My bluebird house this AM!
"I make myself catch more than 1,000 fish on a fly rod every year...."
Oh no no no no....
I invest a lot of energy in avoiding knowledge of the count.
True, Jesus' own (recovering) fishermen put a number on one important catch—153 fish—but I think that was about something entirely different—including, perhaps, a prank on them https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/153_(number).
Look, you got paid to be a trout bum for a season. Amazing. Enviable. As a fly fisher, you got paid to be good.
But now you can be good for nothing.
So just enjoy. Don't count.
I am neither a fisherman nor a believer, but your writing is always captivating. The references you make in your essays always make me think of times passed. There was a time when the shad ran in the Delaware River, and my father always looked forward to eating shad row. I don't know if they are back, but you certainly know - so let us know.
I'm afraid I have to disagree with one of your followers about not being angry with your past overlords. It shouldn't consume your life, but the anger can be used constructively to help you over the downtimes. Passivity lets the active ones win - not always a bad thing, but usually, it isn't so good.
Also, I'm afraid I have to disagree with the idea of not participating in the dialogue. By being silent, you tacitly agree with the hate being pushed in so many ways. It is a game, just as war is a game. The main difference is that the losing side in a war winds up in a worse position than the winning side. The culture wars are only a cover for the true aims of certain participants - namely, the overthrow of our democracy.
To get off my soapbox for a few minutes - what are your thoughts on the bird flu epidemic? I have read where we are advised not to have bird feeders, birdbaths, or any other device to encourage birds to associate in groups. I have a bird feeder, and my wife, myself, and my two cats love watching the action at the feeder. Additionally, several squirrels and my neighbor's two chickens are frequent visitors.
I will appreciate any advice you can give me. I would imagine that many of your other readers would have similar concerns. My father always warned me about the dangers of sunlight, so the closest I come to the outdoors is sitting near an open window at a bar.
Great writing as always. BTW I got a copy of your book. Just finished the Kinky Friedman piece. PSA: if you have not read his book, you should.
What I have noticed is a common thread. You still have a lot of pent up anger at the masters when they shuttered The Weekly Standard.. Let it go Matt. You are far better than that. We here are better off that it happened. Because of it we are all here today. So I say thank you to those that brought you to this point.
Your sensitive side "your birds, the fish you release etc....a direct gene pool passage from the one and only Hallie. She saw the beauty in everything. That my friend is something to always fall back on when the clouds appear.
As I have said not a fisherman, but the way you always describe your travails I am right there wearing my mankini and hip waders. Honestly with so few words you put me right there in the water or on the rowboat. I always come away a happier and better person when I read what you put here. Thanks.
Thanks for another beautiful piece of writing, Matt. If the guy who wrote Job was a fisherman, he’d probably sound like you. My wife and I went down a Levon Helm rabbit hole this winter after watching The Shooter on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know if you know it, and one needs to be able to not mind Mark Wahlberg to enjoy watching it, (one of my superpowers is the ability to sit through one of his films-the other is a great Kermit the Frog voice-I can make him say the most inappropriate things)
In any event, Levon Helm owns part of the film as a elderly, almost blind, ballistics expert that Mark and sidekick travel to Tennessee (I think) to help track down the baddies trying to do them in. He was only a couple of years away from his death when he made it, but his portrayal of a crazy old conspiracy theorist who is probably right, just steals the film. I’d also recommend Once We Were Brothers, which is a documentary that Robbie Robertson made in 2019. It manages to be both inspiring and heartbreaking.
We had a pair of mourning doves nesting in a planter on a shelf by the back door. There were two eggs in the nest. About a week ago, the local red-tailed hawk got the parent in the nest and the eggs. Since then, the one who was out foraging at the time of the attack comes in every evening and sits alone on the power line behind the house. It is heart-wrenching.
It is peak hickory season at Fletcher's---right now. A few Americans also have shown up, along with.... Quillbacks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Nm6PqmV_Xc
Thanks, Matt....I'm an idiot. Had bird on da brain and, well, enough of me....I very much admire you fly angler artists. No bull. Thanks again.
I'm intrigued that being a voyeur into the bluebird nest does not scare the adults off to abandon the eggs/hatchlings. Not sure that works with every breed?
We have a couple of garden variety feeders but seem to notice far fewer birds as the years progress. The cardinal pair - who knows what generation - persists, preferring to dine when they have the place to themselves.
I have read that many fish die even after you wet your hand to pick them up to unhook.
Love this post, Matt! Two responses came to mind as I read. First, I place Paul's admonition in Philippians with two other New Testament passages on giving the best information for living a blessed life: The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew (Eugene Peterson gives excellent explanation of this in his book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, "Jesus Went Up the Mountain")and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Second, I totally get your obsession with the bluebirds. One of the few perks that came from the Covid lockdown was that I purchased two bird feeders. I placed one outside my kitchen window and the other outside my "study" window. While I welcome all birds, the thrill of glancing up and seeing a cardinal perched on one of the feeders never grows old.
One more thing, I love reading the comments almost--and I do mean almost--as much as your posts. Yours is one of the few places on the internet where I feel people (most of the time) express varying opinions without the intent of stirring up a hornet's nest.
In the spring of 2020, when we were spending more time at home than we ever had, we had a nest of robins next to our driveway. The eggs were first discovered on Easter Day and we checked that nest multiple times a day and watched mama like we had never watched a bird before. Had we seen, nests, eggs, and hatchlings before? Yes, but these felt different. We documented every stage and when they became fledglings, we had to find a new way to take our dog outside, because I wasn’t taking any chances with those babies. There was something about those birds that made all of us pay attention in new ways. I loved the bluebird update, and have a similar picture of our robins. I think new life brings out the best in us.