Saturday, January 29, 2011

Merry Belated Christmas!

Almost a month into the New Year, I’m already battling time. It’s been over two months since last checking in, and I can offer no excuse other than I’ve been busy.

I think Groundhog Day represents the final day of the statute of limitations on Christmas posts … so, I’m gonna cram this in before February rears its frozen head.

Betsy and I spent the holiday over in Arkansas, hanging with my family, my good friend Bumper and my cousin Michele and her family.

Mom, Dad and Tim were in festive moods, Bumper was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa Paws and the trout were still biting. Like Thanksgiving, we alternated holiday traditions with trips to the river, casting streamers to willing rainbows and browns.

Christmas morning, we exchanged presents in front of the fire, drank too much coffee and watched A Christmas Story for the 9,317 time (it’s still funny). While Bumper napped and Mom and Betsy teamed up on preparing the afternoon meal, the guys escaped to the river and spent a few hours in the chilly December air scraping ice out of our guides and catching a few trout.

Most of the day after Christmas was spent in the river as well, as Dad, Tim and myself tried to establish a productive pattern for post-cold front trout. Cold, crisp air and bluebird skies were complemented by unusually-low and extremely-clear river conditions, making fishing – or maybe just catching – quite difficult. I was still on a big streamer kick, so I continued to try to lure bigger fish with bigger flies. That made for a long day of casting and a pretty sore shoulder; but in the end, I was wise to stubbornly stick with this approach. Just before sundown, three straight casts resulted in three good browns – 16”, 17.5” and a shade under 20”. The bite just “turned on,” as I was launching a black muddler minnow into a spot I had fished unsuccessfully at various times throughout the day. Just after releasing the biggest trout of the day, I left the fish biting and made the short walk back to the cabin to see Michele and her family, who had just arrived from Alabama.

The house was certainly festive prior to their arrival. It was Christmas, after all. But, when Michele, Glynn and their girls, Emi and Anna Glynn, entered the building, the place just erupted with energy and fun. First, Bumper went a little goofy as he was overloaded with opportunities to say hello to the newcomers. Second, the girls, who had just spent the previous eight hours stuck in the family vehicle, were ready for entertainment. All of us were up to the task.

We played guitar; we drew and painted fish; and we took turns playing with Bumper (after giving him time to come to grips with the expanded attention he was now getting). And, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to teach chess to nine- and five-year-old girls. With a little help from her tutor, Anna Glynn won the game, when she pawn-to-rook-4’d it to somehow successfully surround her older sister’s King. It was an upset, and big sis demanded an immediate rematch. Providing my usual horrible example for the young’ns, I taunted Emi’s lineup with lines stolen from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Michele joined in, as we made teased the chess pieces for being “those silly English-speaking k-niggitts.”

Michele, Glynn and the girls were a ton of fun, and the entire weekend was full of memorable events. As I’ve said before, I’m very blessed. I’ve got a wonderful wife, a wonderful family and the freedom to enjoy spending quality time with all of them. The holidays were special, and I hope yours were too.