Spring continues on it’s rollercoaster; today promising cold, high winds and even thunderstorms. It is a good day to stay home. I have tied a few flies already this morning, and have ideas for a handful more, and there is always something to do around the house. It’s a funny little old house.
We found this place when I had nearly exhausted my prospects, my realtor mentioning it before the ink on the listing agreement was even dry. His agent hadn’t posted a sign when we swung by for the initial look see. Like anything in this world there were pros and cons.
I had been looking for a place outside of town but the more I considered the kind of life I wanted the idea of living right here in Hancock showed merit. We can walk to most of the places we visit on a regular basis. I like that. Exercise is where you find it, and walking around the village taking care of basic chores is good for us and pleasant.
There was plenty of exercise that first summer. The rivers blew out in August and stayed too high to wade right through into winter, so I had plenty of time to take care of projects. The first was rebuilding the porch. There were rotted posts to be replaced, and repairs to parts of the siding and decking. Working along I found that a main support beam was damaged in places, so I engineered a new beam to tie in behind the existing one.
Things went along like that, finding little problems and solving them, and I had a pleasant satisfied feeling when I applied the final coat of paint to the decking and sat back with an ice cold beer to grill some dinner on my porch.
When the rains came all day long, I took drives and rooted around in antique shops looking for a suitable fly tying desk. I found a nice little oak chest for the bedroom, a kitchen table and chairs with potential, and a few odds and ends but no desk. Running out of places to search I thought about building my own, and the local lumber yard told me about a custom hardwood shop in another town. They cut, glued and planed a gorgeous curly maple top for me. I squared the ends, attached some hardwood post legs, and sanded, stained and finished it. I was so pleased I kept showing people pictures of it on my phone. I got my love of wood from my father, and curly maple has always been my favorite.
As summer passed into early autumn I put a new floor in the kitchen and painted the walls. The place looked pretty good and was ready for the big move. The entire process made me feel really good, really alive. I found myself happy, realizing that my time was my own and I was working directly for something I had always dreamed of. Not like working for thirty years at a career at odds with my personal priorities, but working on the dream itself.
With all of the rain I spent a good deal of time mowing the lawn. To most folks that seems like a real chore, but I enjoyed it, and I still do. I feel a satisfaction every time I walk that mower around my yard. My yard. Having rented for decades I finally had a place of my own, and that meant a lot to me in my first summer of retirement.
There are still projects I want to get done. A lot of them involve sanding and wood finishing and have to be done outside, so they are very weather dependent. Last summer found me spending my time on the rivers and the outdoor projects got put on hold, not purposely but day by day they simply got pushed back. It was a gorgeous Catskill summer! I had missed too much fishing in 2018, nearly all of it, so I took advantage of all the nice days to enjoy the reason I moved here; the Catskill rivers.
Everything is just a matter of time. If we look for it, we can usually find the time to do the things that are important to us. During the fishing season, I tie flies early in the morning, when I have fresh inspiration from the previous day’s fishing and the anticipation of the day before me. That schedule works for me, so I often tie early in the morning during the winter too. I like to write early in the morning as well.
Between the unsettled weather and the complications of a major pandemic, there is too little time for fishing right now, and too much for a lot of other house bound tasks. Fishing has come in little bits and pieces: a handful of bugs for an hour, and maybe a single trout rising to give a little purpose to being out there. If we stay safe and healthy, there will be time for fishing to get better.
Days like this one are good for reading, tying and the ongoing project of organizing my fly tying room. I have thirty years worth of materials, stored in numerous plastic boxes. The things I use regularly are right at hand though: hooks, hackles, the dubbing blends I have worked up to match Catskill hatches, CDC feathers, etc. Every once in awhile though I get an idea for a pattern that gets me searching in all those boxes for some obscure material that I know I have…somewhere.