2010 November

NEW GROWTH

Posted by | Reviews | No Comments
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In case you hadn’t seen the new addition to the blog, there’s another section now alive-and-kicking in the navigation above:

T-SHIRTS & SHOUT-OUTS – support local grassroots conservation efforts with your purchase of fishingpoet t-shirts and decals. Giving back looks good on you.

As a matter of fact, I just posted a review of Jeff Vande Zande’s new book, Threatened Species – a really solid collection of five stories and a novella, that take an unflinching look at the pain of loss (family, self, nature, faith) with the rugged landscape of Northern Michigan as its backdrop. And yes, there’s plenty of fishing.

I’ll be sure to let you know when new reviews and features go up, but you might want to check back every now and again… just for good measure.

SATURDAY MORNING GOOSE BLINDS

Posted by | Fatherhood and venison jerkey, In the woods | 4 Comments
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We settle in the furrows. Busted cornstalk & camo. Coffee, pipe and tobacco for me, graham crackers, juice and a goose call for Cam. My pipesmoke drifts from the embers, disappears weakly east. The waiting is easy, we have our distractions.

Sunrise discovers our black-gray-white decoys in their plastic readiness. Birds wind up their volleys on the water—hollow and haunting echoes in their distance—a quarter-mile as the crow flies. Without weather to push, they’re up late.

They materialize from below the treeline, wings and necks, full white breasts, the whistle and buzz of pinion feathers. My son calls to the sky, to birds in their stealthy ascent. Three sets look, circle, continue east. Strings on the horizon. Silent as dawn.

Cornstalks & camo

 

BASIC

Posted by | The road, Time in service | 12 Comments
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5:30 a.m.
Rain, low/mid 40’s
August 28, 1990, my 18th birthday
Ft. Leonard Wood, MO

Up at that hour, I wished I was getting my gear loaded in the truck to fish or hunt.

No dice.

I was doing push-ups. In a parking lot. With a rifle across the back of my hands. Our entire platoon was. Ponchos, kevlar helmets, BDU’s, boots and full canteens. Rain in puddles around our hands and boot-toes, reflecting street-lights and the steam from our breath. I don’t remember why we were doing them, other than someone did something wrong. I quietly hummed happy-birthday-to-me between push-up counts. It was going to be another kick-ass day.

I’m not being sarcastic either. I loved basic training. I still hold to this day that it was one of the best experiences of my life. Our wedding reception/pig-roast a decade later and the birth of my kids shortly after that soundly rounding out the list.

I had to get my mom’s permission when I enlisted at 17. Had to admit in front of her that I smoked pot before too. Hey, its a federal offense if I said never! and then came up hot on my first piss-test…at least that’s what the recruiter said. Mom signed and left the room. I was due to report for duty in Missouri on August 3rd, 1990. The first day of Desert Shield.

Becoming a Combat Engineer was a 13-week come-to-Jesus meeting between my small-town, undisciplined self and a half-dozen Drill Instructors hell bent on forging steel from my small-town, undisciplined self. Tank-trail road marches. Push-ups. Mud and barbed-wire low-crawls. Explosive-device identification classes. Push-ups. Field-triage first aid classes. Road marches. Rifle and grenade ranges. Push-ups. Muscle failure PT at dawn. Foxholes and midnight perimeter guard. Push-ups. Mine field-sweeping exercizes. Nuclear, Biological and Chemical training (aka the gas chamber). Road marches in gas masks. Push-ups.

The impending war in Saudi was held over our heads from day one.

You’re all going to the desert, the Drill Sergeants would bark. Every last swingin’ dick.
If you don’t pay attention, you’re gonna die.

The harder I worked, the better I performed. The better I performed the less the Drill Instructors kicked my ass, which in an odd twist of psychology, drove me to work harder.

I wasn’t the scrawny, insecure, undisciplined kid that was late to the puberty party anymore. Not another kid lost in the wild, confusing, irrelevant shuffle of freshman year at a State school back home. For the first time in my life, I was on my own path. A leader and part of something much bigger than myself. It scared the shit out of me. But it was something I could own and be proud of.

I didn’t wind up going to the desert, assigned instead to an Ordnance Unit in Germany, then returning to serve stateside. Many of my friends did though…and many more served in Panama, Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan…are still serving.

I’ve moved on in another direction with my career and life path. But my time in the military and my cohort are never far from my thoughts. They never will be. Their sacrifice makes the freedoms I enjoy possible…freedoms I know I take for granted at times. Like the ability to write this blog. Or even something as simple and pure as spending time in the woods or on the water with my dad or my kids… for that alone I can’t express enough gratitude.

In the end, I wouldn’t have the perspective I do today without the…ahem…gift of those push-ups on my 18th birthday. I’m thankful, and proud, that I do.

Charlie - 35th, 3rd Platoon, Ft. Leonard Wood, 1990

FREE T’s & MANY THANKS

Posted by | In the woods, On the water | 2 Comments
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Before I announce the winners of the first-ever fishingpoet T-shirt giveaway, I’d like to again say thank you to everyone that has stopped by regularly, or even once in a while over the last (now) 14 months, to catch up on the stories, poetry and such that I put up here. It’s a very cool thing to know that folks are reading.

Enough of the sentimental baloney…here are your 5 winners!

Josh Bergan
Rob DeVore
Kyle Johnson
Robert Wilding
Jean-Paul Lipton

If you didn’t win, don’t fret. I’ll have the T-shirts for sale – $15 each/2 for $25. Decals will be $4 each/2 for $6.

For the guys

For the ladies

I’ll be making donations from the proceeds to support local grassroots wood, water and wildlife conservation programs around the country. I’ll be featuring a new group every other month, sharing  their story and mission, and making a donation to help their cause. That’s the hope anyhow…guess we’ll see how it goes.

Check out the first featured org here, and thanks again for your support.