Friday, January 1, 2010

Looking back

Each year, at the end of December, magazines, Web sites, blogs and newspapers are filled with retrospectives of the year that was. Most of these efforts focus on the dramatic events that helped shaped (at least in their editors’ eyes) the world over the previous 12 months.

My look back isn’t as dramatic (at least on the national stage), and honestly, it’s hard to remember what happened. I don’t know if it’s because I turned 40 this year, or because I’ve been so busy that everything has run together, but I’m finding it difficult to put together a list of great moments in 2009. But, here goes …

Betsy and I celebrated 10 years together in May. Neither of us could believe it’s been that long; probably because we’ve had such a great time over the past decade. Good times make the days, weeks, months and years go by awfully fast. I’m very lucky to have my wife … and I think she’s pretty fond of me too.

I remember painting several paintings of which I’m proud. My saltwater fishing buddy, Fred, got a big surprise this past spring when his wife commissioned a portrait of a huge red snapper (36 lbs) that her hubby caught on a deep-sea fishing outing several years ago. I had blast working from a couple of bad photos to recreate this reef-monster, CSI-style.

Another good friend, Anthony, landed a trophy-sized rainbow from the Missouri River in Montana during early summer, and … well, one thing led to another and I ended up painting that fish too.

After what seemed like years of planning, I finally got around to executing the long-dreamed-about painting called Seventeen. I finished it in late summer, and it’s one of my favorite paintings.

There were two big art shows (well, big for me) that I was particularly pumped to participate in during 2009. The first was Troutfest ’09, in Townsend, Tenn. As I wrote in my blog entry around that time, it was a very successful event, leading to a bunch of new customers and friends and few sales to boot. I’m really looking forward to going back in 2010 and I hope to see some familiar faces when I’m there.

The second art show, the annual Greenway Arts Festival, was supposed to take place in September on the banks of the Stones River. Before I go any further, let me note that 2009 was a really wet year. After several years of drought, things caught up in a big way as we were pounded with rain on several different occasions … including the month of September. The Stones jumped its banks, the festival site was submerged with several feet of water and the show was canceled. That was a bummer.

Speaking of bummers, two of my galleries – including my main gallery in Murfreesboro – fell victim to the rough economy. The Art House closed its doors in December, ending a five-year relationship that was an incredibly positive experience for me. James and Will Duncan helped me so much with my art and with my business, and while I’m sad to see the Art House close, I’m also happy that both of them are moving on to bigger and better things.

Earlier this week, I read on the Little Red Fly Shop’s weekly report that they were closing the shop in January. Jed, Pam and Mark were great partners for me for the past few years and I’m sure many anglers who travel to Heber Springs to fish the fertile Little Red River are sad to learn of this news.

On a more uplifting note, I got some good press in 2009. selected me as their featured artist in June, and I enjoyed over 30 days on the main page of the most visited fly-fishing Web site in the world. On a more local level, the weekly magazine The Murfreesboro Pulse did a really nice article about me in early September. I was flattered and honored by both.

Speaking of honored, it was huge personal highlight for me to be inducted into the University of Dayton Hall of Fame in February. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did, when I found out the 1989 team – the one that won the Div. III National Championship – was being inducted in November. Getting to see many of my teammates (over 60, in fact) after all of these years was an incredible thrill.

My list of friends is thankfully quite large. This list includes a group of guys known as the "Liars and Tiers," a devoted and slightly-crazy bunch who love fly-fishing as much as I do. We fish together quite often and even took two road trips to Arkansas this past year to fish the Little Red. We all caught fish, ate and drank too much, got little to no sleep, tested the patience and understanding of our wives and families ... and obviously had a great time. Special thanks to David and Mark for stepping away from their Tennessee-based guide businesses and towing their boats all the way to Heber Springs and back.

Betsy and I also added a new member to our extended family by presenting my parents with a new puppy a few months ago. Bumper, a spry and extroverted Schnoodle, spent his first weekend with his new family on the banks of the Little Red River and they’ve been inseparable since. Mom, Dad and my brother Tim absolutely live for their new best friend.

Speaking of family, I’m very fortunate to have spent several days with them over the past year … including quite a few days on the river. I always enjoy fishing with my Dad, who continues to teach me volumes about the art of fly-fishing, and any type of sibling rivalry disappears when my brother and I coordinate our efforts to dissect a section of a trout stream. Mom, while she enjoys fishing, seems to take greater enjoyment from watching all of this take place from the security of their cabin's deck overlooking the Little Red River. Just imagining this scene makes me sentimental, but it also makes me look forward to more opportunities in the coming year.

I’m sure I missed some other key events, but I’m awfully lucky to be able to look back and say that there were so many good things that happened in 2009, that I can’t remember them all. I certainly hope the same for all of you.

Happy New Year … and tight lines.

1 comment:

TNangler said...

"Slightly crazy " friends?