I’m a Voodoo Child with a flyrod in my hand….

This thought comes to mind while music fills the room, and another slurp across my tongue gives me pause to enjoy the rhythm of Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament – it is something straightforward… our stories are the things that attract us to each other. Not in a creepy “let’s get it on” kind of way, but in the way that souls see each other past the visible barriers of our bodies to change our lives profoundly from that moment on.

A grey and black mesh cap sit buried near a pile of fly tying materials. The logo stitched into its face beckons to the tying vice, the fur, the feathers, the threads, and hooks lying near it. The vice sits, facing upward, looking to the sky, devoid of anything shiny and textured, which would attract the species I chase throughout Central Oregon. This hat, though, speaks to me in a soft voice saying, “Remember.”

“Remember when I was created. Remember that sunny afternoon when you picked me up at the embroidery facility along with the others. Where were we going to? What was the reason you gave me life?” A week after this hat was born, the beginning of another type was being hatched. A festival where young and old were gathered to speak with each other and discover more about the common thread we all share with the culture and lifestyle that is fly fishing. Thusly the Bend Flyfishing Festival was born into the universe.

The dog sleeping peacefully was shocked awake by the sound of his own ass blast. Funny as this may seem, the shock to my own olfactory system damn near sobered me up. Tear gas in Fergeson be damned, and the lesson of feeding the pooch a little bit of my lunch is well learned. Another strong gulp and skipping into the melodies of Mr. Johnny Cash strumming bring my mind into a place of peace.

Near dog ground zero, a stretched canvas sits peacefully on an end table. Dancing in the light with vibrant hues of blue and magenta is an abstract rendition of a fish. It breaches outward into my mind and is awash in a sea of vibrant color. The slippery fish reaches close to Basil Hayden’s bottle, and I reprimand the juvenile for attempting to partake in my inspiration this evening. Again I hear the word “Remember.”

“Remember where I came from? Do you even know my name? Do you remember who made me and why?” Yes, my dear friend, I remember you well. The place in memory you hold cannot be lodged free because you are tied to my heart and soul. You remind me of where I came from, who I have become, and crush me into a million pieces each time I see you.

You were born in the mind of a child. A child misunderstood and rebellious—a child of children. The passion and desire your creator bestowed on canvas during a time of illness that did not allow you to engage in the instruction we brought to your school over a week in early June is stronger than other stimuli swirling around this room. An instructor reached out to the Bend Casting Club and me, asking, “Come and visit with them, these children, and teach them some fundamentals and the ethic of the sport.” Your peers were able to take part in a young child, and you were not. What you gave me in return warms me more than that last gulp, and I raise my bottle to you.

The dog is back, sitting patiently with tossed back ears and a wagging tail beckoning me to pet him and forgive his transgression. Yes, little buddy, you are forgiven. Now get your wet nose off my hand. I am trying to type. A quick wet kiss on the nose, from him, not me, and upon the couch, he bounds. His tail knocks loose a printing proof that lands on the floor, displaying an image taken of me standing in a riverbed with a cold, tired look blanketing my entire body and face. Again I hear, “Remember.”

Oh, shut up!!! Quit reminding me!!! Why won’t you just let my mind fill with the blackness this magic elixir of Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey is supposed to be here for!!! The memory you spark causes rage and pride and anxiety and fear and love and compassion and DAMN!!!!!! Couldn’t Stand the Weather – Voodoo Child brings my emotions back into focus, another couple gulps, and the typing resumes.

This day was cold, the rain-soaked us through, and Stevie reminds me what happened in this picture: “Well, I’m standing next to a mountain, and I chopped it down with the edge of my hand.” There’s no way I could have said what this event has done to me better the poet who wrote these lyrics and the virtuosity of the melody lifted from the player’s fingers.

To those thousands of fish, we saved, slide on down the river like the fingers of the guitarist sliding the melody into my ears and the whiskey sliding down my throat. The wayward casting and swaying of flyrods and the snapping sounds of flies reaching Mach speed remind me of the transfer of pressure at the same speed being performed by Stevie. The camaraderie of all the shows by musicians I have enjoyed is paralleled by the masses who gathered at the Festival.

The time I take from so many people in our community has to be repaid, and I will repay it in this life or the next. The therapy brought to my soul by these events’ actions cannot be put into words, and more whiskey is on the agenda – along with some fishing tomorrow.

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