Waters & words

Keepers

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My friend Roy sent this to me the other day:

“I grew up with parents who kept everything & used them time & time again! A mother, God love her, who washed aluminium foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen before they had a name for it. A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.
Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away.
I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.
It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there’d always be more.
But then my mother died, and on that clear summer’s night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any more.
Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away…never to return.. So… While we have it….. it’s best we love it…. And care for it… And fix it when it’s broken……… And heal it when it’s sick.
This is true. For marriage……. And old cars….. And children with bad report cards….. And dogs with bad hips…. And aging parents…… And grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with. “

……………………………………………..(The piece goes on to more important aspects like the role of God. I have not repeated the whole message here)

Roy keeps his drill bits in an old  cylindrical container  that had Smarties in it, and which his mother gave him on his twelfth birthday. This is significant when you know that Roy retired recently, and that he STILL has that tin!  This hoarding thing is something we share.

Or is it hoarding? Not necessarily, because we don’t keep useless stuff, instead we keep stuff that we can find a use for, and then look after whatever it is.

I still have the walking stick that my father cut for me from the pear tree in the Orchard when I was a similar age.

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This stick still gets used every week-end on walks with the dogs.

Things that don’t get used are a problem. They fall into that hoarding category, that us nostalgic types try to deny.

Like my Grandfather’s Wheatley fly boxes.

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(Note that Wheatley went into liquidation in January of 2013, but the boxes will continue to be be made by an American company )

They are beautiful, but they are heavy, and still have those old clips in them. I toyed with putting fly-foam in them, but it seemed to me to be a sacrilege to deface a museum piece in such a way, so they sit in a box.  The same is true for the old cane rods I inherited. They aren’t in great shape, and they aren’t valuable pieces, but there is no way I could toss them out or use them. It is a problem!

In some respects I wish technology hadn’t improved so much. That way all these things could still be in use.

Some things I have managed to hang onto, and use. One example is my Hardy’s  3 and 3/16 inch lightweight reel.

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I can’t be sure, but I think it is about a 1960 model. It has no holes drilled in it (someone once suggested I drill them!), but otherwise it has everything a fly reel needs. It is of course heavy by today’s standards, but it is a thing of beauty. I see from vintage tackle dealers sites that it is worth about $400. Selling it is out of the question though. One day I hope to buy a bamboo rod with which to grace it.

I also have a Hardy Marquis that is designed to not fit in any modern day rod holder. This is a right royal pain, but that one I use often. It is a wonderful reel.

Of course one has to decide how far to take this thing. PD recently bought some new fly rods for the first time in over 20 years, and was astounded at how much faster the new rods were. He said that in a way which I interpreted as “I can’t believe I have been missing out on this for all these years”. Before that he was an ardent fan of a rod that was great in its day. He has now fallen silent in his praise for his old rod.

I can say that my fly-tying desk is a wonderful shrine of old stuff that I still use. Like a clothes peg, which was my first improvised hackle plier, and which I was using just last night to hold materials together on my desk, ready for the next fly. My whip finish tool is made from a suitably shaped paper clip ( a big one of course), and which I copied at a meeting of the Natal Fly Dressers society back in the 1980’s.

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My family is amused that I regularly sew my fishing bag and fly vest back together with a set of needles that I sand and oil every once in a while.

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There is a sense of pride and satisfaction to be had in owning, maintaining and using, old equipment like this. It carries with it an air of authenticity that we are lacking in the modern world. It is a somewhat self satisfied feeling, but at the same time a humble one. If parading ones old stuff that is still in use seems boastful, it is. But I like to think that  it is boastful in a manner that upholds the item and not the owner , and that no ego is inflated in the exercise.

Perhaps you are a regular user of antiques in your outdoor pursuits?

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5 responses

  1. I totally relate on many levels… I chuckled when I realised I wrote about the same sentiments in my blogpost “running repairs – staying sharp”. Best regards – metiefly

    Like

    April 16, 2014 at 10:57 pm

  2. My heart raced a little when I saw that reel and the Wheatley boxes. Wonderfully written piece.

    Like

    July 11, 2013 at 5:15 am

  3. A Hardy reel, a Wheatley box, an old custom bamboo… Not to hoard but to use and keep well, because it has have soul and quality and history on its side. I’m with you.

    Like

    July 10, 2013 at 4:11 am

    • Now that you put it like that…. They are special. Unfortunately the bamboo rod is a steel centred one,heavy, with an appalingly soft action, and best for display, but the other stuff is indeed good.

      Like

      July 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

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