I got a call from the Pine, Colorado, Post Office the other day. Not unusual. I live in the sticks, and packages that won’t fit in my tiny mail slot (a mile from my house) require me to pick them up.
“Is this Kirk?” “Yes it is…how are you?” “Not so good. You see I have a package for you that is broken.” “Broken? How?” “Well, it came in a PVC pipe, but that pipe was snapped in half when it arrived here.”
Wait… it gets worse…
“It appears that what was inside this package was a fishing rod… and, um… it’s shattered.”
Now, I have crunched many fishing rods in my day. Some on fish, some in screen doors, some under foot, and some in ways I won’t admit to in a public forum. But that’s part of the deal. This time it wasn’t.
You see, this rod was a gift. From one of you. Koldkut, whom I once took fishing to repay his loyalty and participation in Fly Talk… only to be trumped by him hand-wrapping a wand of magical appeal. A 10-foot, 8-weight, steelhead slammer. What’s more, with maize and blue wraps. The Michigan rod for a Michigan man. Having seen his own rod creations before, I could tell, even in those shards of graphite, it would’ve tossed loops that were butter-smooth. The wraps are perfect, glistening hues under a sheen that looks like it was borne of teardrops from Venus herself.
I was, and am still, touched beyond words.
So, while I first thought this might be the result a dastardly Buckeye conspiracy… or a reason to hate federal incompetence ( I must say, the USPS guy in Pine owned up to the deal with gracious professional aplomb), I’ve come to accept this as a reaffirmation of not only the Christmas spirit, but also the spirit of fly fishing, which is that the thought matters so much, and the physical gift matters much less.
As such, this is my favorite rod. And I don’t need to catch a fish with it to feel that way. In the end, it’s never about the fish anyway… fly fishing is about people.
We writers throw a lot of words down… in magazines, on websites, and so forth. That’s how I pay my bills. But the plain truth is that beyond the money (and nobody gets rich doing this job, trust me)… beyond the cool places we visit, and the wild experiences we enjoy, the number-one motivation is always connecting with people… kindred spirits, who share an ideal. If you wonder whether we read your comments and care about your feedback… we do. Every single day (and often, well into the night). The criticisms sometimes hurt, even through the thickest skins. But the compliments make our spirits soar beyond imagination.
And so, I want to say that I am very thankful for this rod I will never cast… for this supreme compliment, and for the connection through fly fishing to Koldkut. More thankful than I am for any rod I could fish with. I am humbled and honored, Mr. Metzger. And I look forward to standing knee-deep with you again in a wild trout river, anytime, anyplace.