Friday, June 19, 2015

Love Affair with Nature

I've heard it cast about jokingly many times.  "I'm a fishing widow" or "I'm a hunting widow."  As I was reading a book on the life of John Muir recently it hit me how true statements like this can be.  I love nature in so many complex ways but honestly not as much as I love my wife and family.

If you want a long distance relationship; nature is great at that.  You can view it from your car or train window as you zoom by.  It can consume your mind as you drive to a destination and you dream of wandering across a rocky ridge.  Maybe you need more distance?  You can love pictures of nature while sitting on your laptop or tour mountain roads thanks to advances in Google map applications.  I know I'm guilty of this last one.
Maybe you need a broad social circle.  Nature can easily fill that void with its various animals, insects, reptiles, plants and landscapes.  Some of those friends you can get right up and personal with.  Some of my more science minded friends get very close up to ferns and know every detail about them while he keeps the other plants in outer social circles.  Yet another friend encourages whitetail deer to know him on a personal level, while I'm sure they keep their feelings for him a bit more hidden.

If you like drama, nature has plenty of that, especially with the wild weather we've been experiencing lately.  You can watch as the sun battles clouds or trees ward off insect invasions.  Nature really does have lots of drama, maybe even more than your daily soap opera.  Thunderstorms, hurricanes, snowstorms, predator versus prey, these are age old soap operas that have been playing out long before television was even around and we don't have to pay the actors to perform.

I'm not big on drama and I prefer more intimate and quieter contact in my affair with nature.  I like to sit on a large boulder overlooking a broad, slow moving river, as the sun sets in front of me and the daylight slowly fades to light.  We can sit together quietly, me and nature, and get to know one another very well without saying a word.  I can watch a coyote trot along the edge of a meadow or a moose much on sedges from a still pond and feel a sense of respect and a great amount of love.

 From up close or from afar, from an emotional or rational state; nature can generate strong emotion from anyone.  It won't turn its back on us and we can't turn our backs on it, even if we wanted to.  It will test us and make us stronger.  It will make us more resilient just like the best relationships we have with our families.  If you are willing to respect nature it will hone your senses and readily make you stronger and more receptive to other relationships.  So to those who are widows to angling or hunting, hiking or camping, I encourage you to go out and start your own love affair with nature.  You'll be surprised where it might take you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Good Template Helps Event Planning

So tomorrow night I am helping put on a "Beginner's Fly Fishing Workshop."  I can remember when I first hosted this event.  The night before I was in complete panic mode and I was worried that it was going to flop.  Thanks to the strong template we've developed I will get to sleep tonight.

I have a full registration sheet thanks to good social media templates and generous local papers.

The educational presentation was easily updated and barring a power failure should go off without a hitch.

All the materials and handouts are packaged and ready to change hands.

The event location and a key are in hand and ready to go as are the tea and coffee perks.

One thing I can't control is the weather and unfortunately the forecast is not ideal but it should fair well enough thanks to the rest of the event.

If you didn't get registered for this event, keep your eye out on the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee's sites for our "Introduction to Warm Water Fly Fishing." There is some technical differences.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Small Contributions Add Up

This blog entry is emotional for me.  It is a tribute to a member of the church community I grew up in.  I have many ties to his family, but my relationship with him was only minimal due to a number of factors.  However, his small contribution to my life can't be truly put in words.  I made an effort in my latest column in the Kings County Record.  I have posted that column here and I hope the family and friends of Harold see this as a fitting acknowledgement of how he contributed to our community.

Life is made up of many small contributions.  Life is a mix of random encounters, puzzling experiences, and surreal situations.  In one moment it all comes together and can be understood and in the next you're left crying and confused.  All of these contribute to make us who we are and shape how we deal with the next situation. 

This past week I was reminded of small contributors in my life when I heard of the passing of an elderly acquaintance of mine.  I use the term "acquaintance" purposely, as I did not know him well, but he helped frame my life to this point.  Since I started writing this column he would often stop me in the mall or at church functions and tell me of a spot I should wander.

Harold Arnold liked to stop me and tell stories and I would often listen as he had lots of tidbits on the back country around Parlee Brook where I like to venture.  I remember he had a firm handshake and his large mitts reminded me of an old fashion ball glove and to me his mustache and glasses made him the epitome of an old fashioned man's man.  Though limited my meetings and conversations with Harold heavily influenced me and I hope to continue to explore the Parlee Brook area and make it to the falls he often described to me.  Maybe someday I will be the epitome for a young man's "man's man"

The manner in which I remember Harold left me thinking about how I might be contributing to this community; how we can all make small contributions to better ourselves and our community.  Picking up litter, or better yet, not throwing out litter is one small but very visible way we can all make a difference in our community.  I challenge you to pick up the next piece of litter you see on the ground and properly dispose of it.  It will make you feel better about yourself and our community and it is a small act.

Another small contribution many of us already likely make is to charities.  We buy a coffee and place our change in a donation box.  That small change adds up when so many people buy coffee.  It is a small contribution but it will feel good.  Oddly, the donation may perk you up more so than the coffee and it goes to help someone else so it's like getting two coffees for the price of one.

Something else that I took away from Harold is time.  He made a point of talking to me and I found it rewarding.  On the other hand, I took time to listen, and perhaps we each contributed to one another's day.  It is a small thing to take the time to talk and listen to someone, even someone you don't know that well.  In the end you might make a new friend or at the very least contribute to their life in some small way.  The interaction also strengthens the community in which you live by removing barriers and showing others you are receptive to meeting new people.