…Forest for the Trees

Blustery yesterday on the mountain, not so much like May as early April. We kept warm planting trees, garnering a new appreciation for the early subsistence farmers of the Catskills, clearing fields in mountain ground, as we struggled to dig far enough into the rocky soil to plant a seedling dogwood. Their stone walls remain, a monument to the backbreaking labor required to remove the larger, unplowable stones from their fledgling fields.

Planting trees amid the forest you say? Yes, JA is steward of his lovely piece of the high Catskills, improving habitat for the wildlife. I joined him and his wife Donna this time, starting three holes for each seedling successfully planted, thanks to the preponderance of underlying rock. We know we won’t likely see these seedlings grow enough to attract the grouse within the span of years we have remaining, but JA has grandchildren, babes already drawn to “the cabin” and the woods. It feels good to all of us to put something back into the land for them.

We reap the benefits of the mountains now, and hope to leave these ridges better for our passing through.

It seems hard to imagine, but I cast my eyes upon a favorable weather forecast this morning. Of course, the dawn underperformed as usual here in Crooked Eddy: thirty degrees an hour after sunrise, though the sun just now peaked through my window to the east.

I have ferrules to clean, wiping away the oxidation from six months of winter. I pulled the rod from its tube just now, savoring the sweet fragrance of the varnish that Tom Maxwell applied forty-five years ago. The scent lies full in the tan poplin and brings back memories…

Hendrickson they dubbed this gentle scepter, and I hope for a meeting with the legions of its namesake, hoping they have not yet passed on for another year. The Thomas & Thomas Rod Company was eight years old when Maxwell and Dorsey crafted this rod; they passed fifty, three short years ago. Dorsey saw the change coming earlier than many, and the young company forged ahead into the new field of graphite rod design, always maintaining the founders’ passion for cane. I am privileged to enjoy the beauty and finesse of this vintage wand!

I fish their graphite rods too, at least in the early days of new seasons. Deep wading, casting maximum distances, and fighting fierce winds no sane fly fisher would choose to chase trout in seems less gentile than the quiet stalking and perfect presentation of the more supple weeks of spring. Such conditions have been the rule since April dawned, thus I am later than expected enjoying the sweet perfume of bamboo. The Hendrickson will walk with me today, mojo to court the magic of those splendid mayflies, my favorite if at times the most ephemeral of hatches!

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