Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gluing.

January 21, 2012 - 8:32 a.m.

Prairie dogs stand tall and straight by their dens, like gnomen on a sundial. Worshipping the sun -- perhaps, asking of it a favor for the day. The request, between them and their god. It’s said that there are no bigger issues in the West than water and wolves. But here and now, I’ll add prairie dogs. In Boulder County they’re an issue, to say the least and say it kindly. Yet this morning, I like that they are here -- a reminder of a time when we too, worshipped the sun. And although we still rely upon it, as children of privilege we lack responsibility enough to pay our respect. So driving north, I glance east with thanks.


8:55 a.m.

Jake (an entire welcoming committee and then some) hears the shop door open and runs, skidding on the laminate floor to a stop before me. Throw this bone? Please? So I do. “Now you’ve started something, ya know?” Mike says. I know. So I throw the bone again. 

I have tips to finish up this morning, and my vision triangulates: where is the cane, where is my hand, and where are both going. In my world at this moment, there is nothing else.

I’ve heard it described as meditative, planing -- yet until this moment I haven’t been able to fathom it that way, being too concerned with the physical process to let my mind wander. Plus, I’ve always struggled with meditation, however it’s defined (as an emptying of thought, or a concentration upon one); but right now, I think I’ve come the closest I ever have to understanding it --as a filling, and as an absorption -- unable to get my mind off the cane, I give in, wholeheartedly. Eagerly, even. And although a deeply rooted concentration, it’s an open one too, and growing -- multifaceted --of senses, thoughts, analysis, and imagination. And so perhaps it is not a specific time, or place, or thought -- but rather, meditation is the consistency of life...
 

…..an absorption in living. 
My eyes smart, and I realize that I haven’t blinked in god knows how long. Like when fishing and I don’t want to take my eyes off anything. Things can happen when you blink, you know. In fact, that’s when they usually do.  

And just like in fishing, in planing, time at once stands still and speeds up -- life held back and pushed forward, suspended. Come late afternoon, it seems like I’ve just begun, yet have been planing forever -- and I finish the last strip of the butt section.

Frank begins rounding up the gluing supplies: wax and painting paper, tape, buckets of water, cloths, and toothbrushes. And of course, the bottle of glue. The magic. I vacuum, trying to make sure I get any dust or shavings that could get in between the splits and prevent the pieces from rolling evenly. Frank shows me how to cut and lay out four strips of tape, and then carefully place each strip of cane down, double checking that the node pattern is correct. Precisely, and reverently-- almost as if performing a religious rite. They’re beautiful, all laid out. Waiting. I try to remember the strips in this way -- my rod in this way -- as separate beings, before joined again into a whole -- into something they could never be all on their own. I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned from this for a fiercely independent soul such as myself. However, I choose not to think about that right now.

Frank zig-zaggs glue across the first set of tip strips, reminding me of frosting Christmas cookies as a kid for some reason. Probably, the wax paper. “Well, that’s how it’s done” he says, and with a satisfied look, hands me a toothbrush. “Make sure everything is covered....all the corners and between each strip.” And I do.  

Then he picks up the strips, still taped together at their back. “Now, this is where that little leap of faith part comes in,” he winks, knowing the outcome. Knowing that it has worked before and it will work again. Perhaps not every time -- but yes, again. Deep snow-packs, long run-offs, and abundant wildflowers won’t come this year. But they did last, and I know they will again. And that, I believe, is faith.

The strips roll perfectly, like they’re remembering this place -- a home-coming of sorts, and I feel myself sigh. I’ve been holding my breath. Something is complete. Not finished, but complete -- those being two separate things entirely. The former, a sadness...growth's mourning; the latter, encouragement that you can go on...and you will.

Darkness has come, later than it did but only a few weeks ago. Lights are low, casting shadows off the cane, and it seems a right setting for alchemy such as this.

I glue up the next tip and butt, and Frank shows be how to run them through the binder, helping knot it in tightly. Then I roll them out on a sheet of waxed paper, making sure everything is pressed together tightly, and getting off excess glue. “In all actuality, more might come off on your hands than the paper.....that’s what another student once told me,” Frank notes. But either way, it serves its purpose.

“Look straight?”

I squint one of my eyes, scoping down the bound cane.

“Yep.”

“Cool.”

Now they dry, appropriately hung by clothespins -- “high tech” says Frank --and these creations I’ve shaped into birth hold my eyes, as I remember a line of Ansel Adams about children, and how they are “not only of flesh and blood” but also “ideas, thoughts, emotions." And maybe, I think, even bamboo fly rods.

I smile and clap my hands. Frank’s eyes sparkle, as if he too is seeing this all for the first time...and perhaps, each time he is.  



On the drive home as I enter the canyon, flurries fly from a clear night sky, and I wonder how that can be. But then again, I suppose it’s  just another one of those things in life that requires a little leap of faith to believe it can actually happen.

52 comments:

  1. have to go to work, but will read later. It is so exciting seeing the pieces come together. You must be pumped up. ah! I 'm late..

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  2. Much better, much, much better than 24! And more exciting!

    Regular Rod

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    1. Regular Rod - ahhh the suspense!!! ;)

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  3. Great read on something I could never come close to---I really admire you for this undertaking. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Dave - I hope it has not given you a headache! ;)

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  5. Many thanks too all of you guys! The reading, comments, and encouragement are very much appreciated!

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  6. Erin, you are that "fiercely independent soul"... "it’s an open one too, and growing -- multifaceted". Your words are you... to read you is to know you. It's one of your most endearing qualities.
    You always put in a quote from one of the greats. No doubt, they and others will quote you some day.

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    1. FlyFishingCrazy - Your words mean a lot...you know me and have fished with me, and I'm glad I'm true to my words. Or should I say in them? Thank you as always!

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    1. Thanks, Tom! Very glad you enjoyed it.

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  8. Most of my fishing is done in a 'meditative mode', i can sit there for hours and think of nothing at all..................... not sure that that is a good thing but it is good for my sanity!

    Do you know where your first cast will be, will it be somewhere special, a rod like that deserves to be taken somewhere special for its first cast and hopefully for its first fish.

    Lovely as ever Erin.

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    1. Tom Herbert - (Two Tom H.'s right in a row. My goodness!) Well, I have put some thought into where I will take my rod on its first outing...and I think my homewaters are fitting. It will be on South Boulder Creek, somewhere. And I agree with you, that 'meditative mode' is necessary for my sanity too.

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  9. Fine, fine journey.

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  10. I have never built a fly rod, let alone a cane rod. Quite an undertaking, and quite an achievement so far.

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    1. Brk Trt - Thanks for journeying along...

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  11. With all the last posts talking of giving birth and life I guess I can consider myself a Grandma to a dog and now a Bamboo rod too. I will have to throw you a "boo" shower party and send out birth announcements when you are through. Make sure to include the weight and length when you call people will ask.

    Always proud, Mama (sgb)

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    1. I like this idea, "Grandma" Sue. ;-)

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  12. Sue, I've got the perfect bamboo shower gift. Please don't forget to invite me! (This won't be just for girls will it?)

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    1. Howard, I'll invite you...worry not.

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    2. Howard, Oh no not a girly shower when the Block girls are involved and yes it wouldn't be right to throw the party without you.

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  13. I never thought triangles could be that beautiful. I'd say you know how to meditate.

    On another topic...I can't wait to see those classic wet flies you're tying.

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    1. RR - Ah yes, the wet flies. Horribly horribly frustrating. Moreso than the rod. It's the wings, I tell you! Grrr. But, I will post more photos soon hopefully. :)

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    2. Moreso....great word.

      The wings have been haunting me lately too. I have some gray duck quills that have been begging me to be tied. I'll be sharing your frustrations soon I imagine, and look forward to the photos.

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    3. Albeit...also great! Sigh, yes, the wings. If you figure out a trick, let me know! And, I've been obsessively following this site for awhile, check it out: http://streamers365.com/2012/01/27-beige-grimard/

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    4. Oh yes, 365 streamers is great. Those flies are too pretty to fish almost.

      It was great meeting you yesterday. It's funny how small the community of fly fishing can be. I didn't realize the LG was where Frank's shop was, and it kinda threw me for a loop when I pulled in. I felt like I already know Frank, and meeting follow bloggers is a hoot. Like meeting a stranger you know well. Glad to see the build in progress, and look forward to seeing the finishing touches.

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  14. What a trip. Can't wait to see this dude put to work on the stream.

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  15. So, how long did you just sit and admire your newly glued blank? Quite amazing isn't it?

    I've never experienced anything like it, that is other than holding my newborn children for the first time. Maybe not as emotional but very similar, I really felt as though I truely created something from nothing.

    Wayneb

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    1. Wayneb - Although I've never held a child of my own, this is about as near as I will ever get, and it did remind me of holding newborn goats and cattle...birth is an amazing thing. And yes, I looked at it, smiling, a good long while.

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  16. Traveling this week for work, I checked your blog for highlights on my iPhone, like someone would check the sports page for their favorite teams scores and highlights. But I waited until I returned home to sit and read and experience your creative journey on the big screen. And it's well worth the wait. Since you started, I've re-read Gierach's, "Fishing Bamboo," and now you too are infected with the boo bug! I too am looking forward to this Summer's adventures of bamboo, heritage dry flies and hungry trout. :-)

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    1. finsandfeathers - Huzzah! And thanks so much for your kind words....hit the big screen! 'Boo is catching, eh? ;) And Gierach's "Fishing Bamboo" was the first book I read on the subject...it's now peppered with post-it page-markers. Here's to the summer before us!

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    2. "peppered with post-it page-markers" Yes, and dog eared pages, high lighted and notes in the margins. Here's one of my favorite heritage flies for the Sierra, The Sierra Bright Dot: http://stevenojai.tripod.com/brightdot.htm

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  17. Can't wait to see the next post. Here in SA we have several excellent splint cane rod builders, but the nearest is about 800km away. So I'm slightly,just slightly jealous.

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    1. Phillip - I'm definitely lucky to have Frank only a little over an hour's drive away!

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  18. Been following along(of course) and can't wait to see the end product in your hand on a stream somewhere. The anticipation of that first cast has to be mounting exponentially each time you finish another step...I'm excited and it's not even my flyrod!!

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    1. HighPlains - You know, I thought the anticipation would be killing me. But strangely, it's not. So much thought and attention goes into each step....each one is an excitement of its own. Thanks for following along, and taking the time to comment!

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  19. Hi Erin;

    Just wait till the rod is completely assembled and your waiting for the finish to cure. That's when you will whish time would speed up so you can cast it!

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    1. Wayneb - On Friday, I will slide the ferrules together, and feel the first "wiggle." I'm looking forward to that.

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  20. Dearest Erin,
    Figuratively speaking. Just how many people will be lining the banks of the stream where you make the first cast? Many, from different states in the U.S. and others from different countries around the world. What an impact your 'simple' blog has had on us all.
    We'll all be there with you on the day - and wish you well old sausage.
    Alan

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    1. Alan - It is overwhelming, the amount. And very truly, humbling that so many people care about my simple writings. Thank you, for doing so..."big brother" ;)

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  21. I love John Gierach and Barbara Kingsolvers essays: and now yours. Thank you for your blog. It is pleasure to read on these gray sleeting days in northwestern BC

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    1. Jenn - Wow. To even be mentioned in the same sentence...paragraph...as those two. Thank you so much, and it makes me glad they can brighten a gray day! Also, I'm quite intrigued by your photos and writings, and wanderings...I'm looking forward to your next 'off in all directions' post...

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  22. Hey, little sister,
    Your blog may be 'simple', but your writing is anything but.
    BB.

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  23. I haven't decided what has been more fun, reading your account of building this rod, or watching it come together through your photos...Well,it's the reading for sure, but the pictures are really cool additions.

    A fun adventure indeed...

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    1. Sanders - I'm glad you're enjoying both! Thanks for reading and watching the adventure. :)

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