I developed an obsession with crane flies this past summer. It started as a vengeance of sorts -- Jay and I getting skunked at a backcountry lake...the kind of lake it had taken half a day just to walk to. And then, a half-a-day's sweat and expectations were dried up by crane flies. They were hatching (and being eagerly eaten) all over the surface of the water, but neither Jay nor I had a crane fly pattern in our box. Jay had some Halfbacks though, so we coated them with floatant, and they did just that. But the cutthroats knew better, and we walked the five miles out at dusk, muttering....we really need a crane fly pattern.
A few weeks later Jay trapped one who was flying around the mason-jar yard light, with another mason jar (these might, in fact, be the most useful things in the world aside from duct tape). I sat at the kitchen table and stared at it, as a ghost of the kid who I once was, transfixed before a praying mantis cocooning on a magnolia tree twig in a sun-tea jar. I remember feeling empowered because I'd read that after mating, the female eats the male. How cool. I always felt somewhat jipped by the birds at my mom's feeders in the backyard -- the males were always prettier. The females? Pragmatically dressed to care, feed, and hide the young. You know, the usual. And to my growing mind of feminist leanings, it was a microcosmic view of what I feared awaited me in life. A praying mantis should really be the mascot of N.O.W.
But, it isn't.
And so I continued looking at the crane fly in the mason jar, eventually letting him go to fly around the house until he escaped through the door propped open for Banjo.
Then just a month ago, one appeared dead on the bathroom floor. I left him there, exactly where he lay -- just like a CSI investigator would do -- a body on a scene. The gestalt. That's how I do things creatively -- I type and write and tack pictures up on my wall -- I keep the subject always before me, trying to understand its entirety. For that, is worship -- and worship in some form, is necessary for creation. It need not always be praise-full though, I fully believe there to be a type entered into out of fear, hatred, or in this case, avengement. And sometimes this sort of worship is the truest, making for the most interesting of creations.
So for a good month now, I've swept and cleaned around, leaving him undisturbed as an ever-constant reminder that I needed a pattern after his kind. I'm sure preserving an insect for observation on one's bathroom floor is considered uncouth, and I was glad there wasn’t to be company (at least, that is, expected company; and be it un-expected, well, then I'd have a good excuse for the large insect laying on my bathroom floor. Caught unawares, you know).
Having decided I had stared enough, I picked up and pinned him above my tying desk to look at some more. To worship. To tie. And as I did, I thought about the lake, it’s lay, and how I would go back with this fly. Yes, this next high lake season, I’ll have crane flies in my box.
Crater's Crane Fly
Hook: TMC 100 size 18
Body: Ferruled dubbing loop (brown dubbing)
Legs: Four turkey tail feathers, 1 fiber knotted for each leg
Wings: Brahma hen soft-hackle feathers trimmed on one side and tied back in a loop
Hackle: Brown saddle hackle