The unexpected results of writing this column continue to surprise me. People sometimes approach me at the Callicoon Farmers’ Market to praise or reproach me for words I have written. Sometimes the phone will suddenly ring. Once, it was a lady who said she had been a long time friend of John McDonald, the author of the book “Quill Gordon.” She wanted to thank me about something I had written regarding McDonald. I just never know what reaction a given column will produce. Some readers, such as Frank Salt of Damascus or Bob Moase of Sweet Valley, enjoy playing Clem’s Quiz in order to win two of my “poorly tied” flies. Since the baseball season is nearly here, the next quiz will run in early April.
It is not always easy to get these scribblings to the paper in a timely manner, especially when I am in Texas with a new bionic knee and an extended period of rehabilitation. Lately, my fishing has been reduced to little more than recalling memories. The February column was particularly difficult. The deadline was fast approaching and I was bereft of ideas. I was sitting in my fly tying room with no words flowing off the tip of my pencil. I was deep in thought, seeking an idea to get the words flowing. There I was, staring at some flies sitting on one of the many bookshelves in that room. On one shelf there sits a full dressed salmon fly tied by Keith Fulsher. Alongside that fly sit several flies mounted in glass jars, tied by some of the luminaries of the Dallas Fly Fishers. There are also two stoneflies tied by Agnes Van Put using Lee Wulff’s method. There is also a small plastic box that contains a Letort Hopper and a Henryville Special. I recalled the evening that these two flies had come into the possession of my diminutive, long-time fishing partner Barbara Ann. I suddenly smiled, for there was the answer to my problem. I had only to go back to my fly fishing journal of 1970 to find enough material to produce a small fishing story describing the events of a time long ago.
Shortly after that column ran in The River Reporter, the phone rang. The caller was a very polite gentleman who said he had obtained my phone number from the paper. He was a regular reader who enjoyed reading my columns. He was particularly pleased with the February column that mentioned the 1970 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers outing at Henryville where Ernie Schwiebert had given a fly tying demonstration. On behalf of the current Henryville Flyfishers, he wished to extend an invitation to Barb and me to spend an afternoon fishing the Paradise Branch of the Brodhead. For a brief moment I wondered if one of my sly fishing pals was pulling my leg. However, Paul Canevari’s sincerity washed away that thought as quickly as the mighty Delaware River moves gravel when in flood. I hope Barbara and I do not disappoint Canevari. What little fly fishing skills we ever learned have been severely eroded by time. Also, Barbara Ann, that “little osprey,” does not dive into the stream as boldly as she once did.
Ah well, you surely know how that poem about the arrow goes—It landed, I know not where.
The Arrow and the Song
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.