Treasures and treats

My wife and I  pulled up outside a shop the other day, and while she went in search of ice for the cool box, I hung back and answered questions from a woman who was swooning…..over our boat.  She seemed a bit rough around the edges. Hard as a woodpeckers lips in fact. Her fingers were tobacco stained, and her hair was like straw. But she got it. She got it that this work of art is a thing of such beauty, that to travel with it, to launch it, and to climb into it, is in itself a treasured act in which one can delight, far beyond the measure of the miles that one might paddle in it.


Funny that, isn’t it. More than half the people I pass on the road don’t notice the canoe. The others  have traffic accidents. My daughter and I counted the other day. As each car passed, we labeled the occupants as “with it”, or “dull”. I guess this is as close as I will get to knowing how a pretty girl feels when she walks into a room of admiring stares!

And then there are these landing nets. Such insignificant things in our arsenal of fishing tackle really, but somehow we have elevated them, and given them cult status.  You can nip into a shop and buy this or that item of tackle, but not a landing net. Oh no!  These things are sacred. You order them, and get photos of the progress of their manufacture. When they are delivered, it must happen over good cappuccino, and photos are taken. The price, the effort, the beauty, and the reverence, all outweigh their hours of use and practical purpose ten fold.

And don’t get me started on bamboo rods!  I don’t own one. Well not a functional one anyway, and I doubt that my bank manager would allow it. As a result I feel downright inferior. There. I admit it.

Moving on.

Wooden fly reels. Have you seen those?  A whole bunch seem to be made in Ukraine or Georgia or some other such place threatened by Russia. Absolutely beautiful!  I have only seen the photos. They are rich in grain, gleaming with polish, and photographed in the soft glow of a fire in the hearth.

My recently acquired J-Vice. Damn I love it. Sometimes I just sit at the tying desk and stroke the gleaming brass. The cheap Indian one that it replaced did me just fine for twenty five years, but who wouldn’t want to own one of Jay’s treasures!

J vice (1 of 1)

It is magnificent.

I suppose these talismans are unnecessary indulgences that, if one breaks it all down, are part of our society’s rampant consumerism. Their acquisition, and the pains we go to to achieve ownership, represents downright affluenza of the type that I so dislike. But if these things are items of our gentlemanly outdoor pursuits. If they are things we can wax lyrical about, and about which we can brim with pride and joy, without being stuck-up about it. If they gleam and glow, and warm our hearts, then why not. If we can treasure our fine “gear and tackle and trim”, and its use can become a relished indulgence, in which we partake for fewer hours than justifies its ownership, but with a delight that casts the measurement of time aside, then “Why not?”, I say!

Umgeni (1 of 1)

6 Responses

  1. I plan on getting me one of those J vices one day! It was after he donated one to the Rhodes University flyfishing club a few years ago while Leanne was a member that I first saw them and fell in love instantly…. even threatened to “lose” that club vice in my car somewhere.

  2. If I was passing that canoe on top your vehicle, I’d be turning my head and saying something like, ‘Wow, I wouldn’t want to have to buy that boat, but it sure would be nice to drift around in.’ I’d be happy to be, in this case, “with it.”

  3. Well first off, “hard as a woodpeckers lips.” I laughed until the tears were streaming down my face. I’m filing that one away to use sometime special. I’d love to get a beautiful canoe. One of my best friends make some of the nicest I’ve seen anywhere, so I’m sure I’d notice. And of course I had to have a custom made net. I don’t often carry it for 8″ trout, but it sure is pretty. I’ve also got a custom made 7′ 5wt bamboo rod that I just look at unless I’m fishing a particular river. I broke tradition and fished it last weekend. Sweet. I guess I’m with it…I’m also near bankruptcy trying to stay with it.

    1. I have to confess that I borrowed the “woodpeckers lips” one from an interview on TV with an Australian rugby player. Nice to hear that you have a few treasures of your own Howard. 🙂

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