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THINKING OF MY LAST TRIP TO THE KEYS ALMOST ONE YEAR LATER

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and the moon stuck with us
a full half the day     three-quarters
hanging high and quiet to the west
a translucent whisper
not enough for even a reflection
on the oceanside glass     I stood
on the bow and let go     closed my eyes
and gave myself to the unknowable
back and forth of the water
the slight lap against the skiff
occasional bird call     the breeze
and rising sun at my back

FIVE YEARS

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Five years ago today I hit publish on my first post here. I had spend the better part of two months trying to figure out what it was that I was going to add to the already burgeoning outdoor blog conversation — and whether it mattered to me if what I wrote actually mattered to anyone else but me and (eventually) my kids. I just wanted to give my soul a chance to breathe and be quiet again. I simply wanted to write. And so, the blog was my shot over the bow, in a manner of speaking. My first cast. This poem specifically:

GEESE, BEFORE MY FIRST CAST

They’re coming around the corner of the island now.
Five afloat on the rippling glow.

Slow armada.
Dark & noisy morning fleet.

***

1,825 days and 151 (now 152) posts later, I find myself turning to the blog for another breath, some quiet, and a renewed perspective. I’m exceedingly happy I took the shot I did in the first place, and that I’ve been able to share these last five years with all of you. And I’m exceedingly happy that it has mattered. Here’s to five more years of being present for mornings like the one that’s perpetually dawning in the words above.

FUGGEDDABOUDIT

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Hi, my name is Matt and I like trade shows.

True — I have not ridden an entire seasonal circuit (or two or ten) in a booth as an exhibitor. I haven’t been tethered by the short leash in-between Thursday set-up and Sunday tear-down. Haven’t had weekend after weekend of the always-entertaining-but-never-a-good-idea Friday and/or Saturday night carousing (well, since college and the service anyhow). I haven’t clocked hundreds of hours humping boxes of display hardware and gear, or logged countless winter windshield or business-class airline miles away from the family criss-crossing the country. I’m a rookie. I’m not yet jaded.

But I have roamed 4 of them under the guise of being The Media: IFTD in NOLA, Somerset, Denver and Somerset again just this past weekend. According to some – that’s three too many already. However, I made the latest trip to Jersey under significantly different circumstances. I was still a blog writer, yes – and had a whole lot of fellow writers, photographers, artists, anglers and humorists on my agenda to meet (as I’ve done at the other shows), as well as manufacturers, fly shop owners, fly tiers and other industry folks. I was also representing our film project – A Deliberate Life – that’s touring with IF4 and this particular trade show. And lastly, I was there as a member of the Thomas & Thomas fly fishing cohort, being the guy that runs their digital and social marketing initiatives among other things — the first time my association with them had been made public outside of personal conversations with friends.

To me the shows stand for more than just a necessary evil — they represent the community that our industry is starting to become (or return to, as may be the case). They represent the best and brightest and the young and hungry – which are, in many cases, one in the same. Independent spirit, entrepreneurial thinking and working that much harder (and smarter) to reach goals. They represent the time, energy and creativity that we’re putting into the future of our sport — brands, large and small, being active and engaged with communities, consumers and each other on far more personal levels, which I can only see extending to an increased willingness to lead by example, a push toward more sustainable business practices, and stronger, proactive efforts with regard to environmental stewardship.

I know there’ll be a time when it’ll fall to me to hold down the booth. When I’ll be the one responsible for humping boxes and logging all those miles. When I’m no longer a rookie. I know it. But that doesn’t much bother me. I’ll always be down for handshakes and beers with old friends and new acquaintances and talking about who-caught-what and where, if not actually getting out together and catching who-knows-what-wherever. I’ll always be down for the time and energy it takes to make a difference. Because, shit — this is the path I chose to follow. And when it comes right down to it, these are the good people I want to run that path with.

No, I’m not yet jaded.

Thankfully, that doesn’t mean I’m going to wind up that way either.

The usual suspects - photo by Rob Yaskovic

Scott and Chris putting Vedavoo on the map

Pat Cohen's deer hair stump

The full line-up of new T&T sticks

I wish they got that big in the Adirondacks

The Whitlock's beautiful set-up

Sporting books. My kind of library.

DARK MOUNTAIN MORNING

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Pixels

A chalkboard on the front porch of the general store
in the small Adirondack hamlet that our cabin
is loosely associated with had the forecast
written neatly above the morning’s coffee special
Blue-bird through Thursday it said
followed by a smiley face and the morning’s coffee special
Dark Mountain Morning and so it was
to our surprise after walking back across the footbridge
and following the quiet road a quarter-mile
to the cabin with our coffees and the kids
inhaling homemade blueberry muffins
that the clouds gathered and unrolled over the lake
a wide gray west-bound expanse of rain on the heels
of a wind ushering a 10-degree temperature drop
it was on us before we could grab the towels drying
on the line before we could turn the canoes over
and rescue tackle-boxes and rods and lifejackets
from the dock before we could close cabin windows
and keep the soaking mist off the curtains
comforter on our bed and linoleum floor in the kitchen

In a mad laughing rush though
we did flip the canoes
rescue tackle and close windows
using the somewhat damp towels
to sop-up the linoleum
we found dry warm clothes
chairs on the screened porch
and watched the storm wear itself out
while the kids gabbled like ducks outside
under the run-off from the roof