In the end, it’s all about memories . . .

“The Journal”

We come into this world bare-assed and full of energy. We leave the same way—minus the energy.  Along the journey, if we’re lucky, we accumulate countless memories, based upon various experiences: some pleasant, others not so much.  One thing is certain: they all fade as we age.

Friday afternoon, I was cleaning the storage area of my basement, when I came across a little stack of papers, note pad size, held together by a single staple.  I nearly tossed it in the waste basket, but something made me inspect it more closely before I did.  It was a journal I had kept on one of my annual fly fishing trips to the Catskills.  I smiled as I read the entries.  This was one of the good really good times.  Here is a sense of the week’s activities.

“Saturday, 6/2/07 – Left home 6:45.  Passed Harrisburg around 3 p.m.  Decided to keep going.  Stopped around 6:30 p.m. in Pinegrove, PA.  Got room at Econolodge.  Ate at Arby’s.  Asleep by 8:30 p.m.”

I remember that night like it was yesterday.  After dinner, I had made three trips up two flights of stairs, stashing all my expensive gear in the room.  I hadn’t been asleep more than an hour and a half, when I awoke in a sweat.  I thought perhaps the air conditioner had broken down.  I reached over to turn on the lamp, but it was dead.  Furniture walking, I managed to make my way to the door, where I flipped on the light switch.  Nothing.  Dead as a doornail!  Long story short, a driver had taken out a utility pole, and with it, the electrical supply to the motel.  Barely awake, I retraced my steps from the previous three trips up and down the stairs, and loaded all my gear back into my truck.  Forty minutes later, I checked into another motel on up the road, and slept until early morning.

“Sunday – Arrived Roscoe 9 a.m. Ate breakfast Roscoe coffee shop. Saw Pat & Fred. Fished Sunday eve 5:30-8:00 p.m.  Hooked approx. 12 fish, landed 8, all small.”

Pat was a waitress at the coffee shop, whom I had known for nearly 15 years, and Fred was her husband.  They used to squirt each other with water pistols, and play pranks on the customers.  Both are long gone.  I think of them whenever I’m in Roscoe.  The coffee shop closed last year.  I miss them all.

“Monday – Fished Cemetery Pool – some size 14 Isonychia showing, couple of March Browns, no activity . . . Worked over a half dozen fish for 2 hours.  Several refusals.  Finally caught a 15″ brown on ovapositing caddis.  Nice fish . . . Sunoco Pool . . . nothing. . . Acid Factory, 1 – 1/2 hrs. . . nothing.  Quit 4:30 – back to motel . . . ran into old friend, Phil Bolton, will fish with him in morning . . . had a pizza at Raimondo’s . . . watched Stanley Cup . . .”

The old friend was a former customer, whom I had known when I was the manager of the fishing department at Ramsey Outdoor Store, back in New Jersey.  We fished from 5 a.m. Tuesday morning until around 7:30 that evening, caught nothing, and went our separate ways.  The nicest thing about our running into one another was that he remembered me!  (Usually, it’s the other way round.)  It was good to see him.  

“Tuesday – Fished the Acid Factory from 4 –  7:30 – Zip . . . Fished the upper Beaverkill till 8 p.m., took nice fat ‘bow on Isonychia parachute. Jumped 3 times! Lots of Iso spinners . . .”

Wednesday, I fished hard with little success.  During the day, I talked to many fishermen at various locations along the river. Mostly a “people day,” (the kind I most enjoy).

Frank Kuttner

“Wednesday – Took Kuttner to lunch. Returned to motel room & hung out until around 4:00 p.m. Met Steve Donaldson from Mass. Talked about 1 – 1/2 hrs, then went down to river. Very patient, but virtually no activity. Sporadic hatching of Blue Winged Olives,size 14-18, sulfurs same. Finally, gave up around 8:40. Watched hockey.

If you read my Matt Davis mystery series, you might recognize the name Kuttner.  Frank and I have been friends for over 30 years, and he is a recurring character in the series.  He closed his fly shop last year, and I didn’t see him for the first time in over 20 years.  I don’t know when I’ll see him again.  I miss him, too.

Thursday was special.

“Thursday – Arose 5:30, overcast & cold 55 degrees. Met Charlie at coffee shop 7:00 a.m.  8:00 Acid Factory – fished ’til 11:00 a.m. – nothing!!  11-12:00 got Charlie checked in at motel.  12:15 – 3:00, fished Willowemoc from Stewart Ave down toward Junction Pool.  K-I-L-L-E-D!!  All small, hooked approx. 30, landed 17.  Charlie, same, or better.  Ate lunch/dinner at Cairn’s Pool; nothing happening.  Got to Cemetery Pool around 4:30.  Absolutely nothing till 8 p.m. 8-9, smorgasbord but no luck . . . “

L to R, Charlie, Bob, & me (2012)

“Charlie” is Charlie Marra, an old and very dear friend with whom I have been fishing since around 1989.   For the last five years, it’s been Charlie, Bob, and me.  “Bob” is Bob Pagani, and we’ve only been fly fishing a short time.  However, we go w-a-y back, maybe 45 years.  (I’ll talk about him another day.)

 Since my move to North Carolina in 1999, it has become increasingly difficult to fish with Charlie. That’s because he’s about 10 years younger than I am, and still working.  Nevertheless, we still try to find a way to fish at least once each year.  Next year, he retires, but he’s moving to Michigan, and although he promises we’ll keep fishing, I have my doubts.  I miss him already.  

“Friday –  Arose 5:00 a.m.  Charlie came by the room at 6:00, and we got to Peakville and started fishing around 7:00 . . . waded upstream of the island & pricked 2 fish. Charlie stayed at the pool & caught really nice 14-incher . . . fished the 191 boat ramp, hooked & lost 2 small fish . . . back to Peakville around 1:30 . . . very h-o-t!  Saw 1/2 doz. large fish working . . . nothing . . . Guy caught the largest rainbow I’ve ever seen!!  Probably 22″ – 26″, between two-and-a-half and three pounds E-N-O-R-M-O-U-S!! . . . got a hot dog around 12:30. Back to motel for nap . . . Willowemoc 3:30 to 5:30, hooked 7 fish, landed 3. Last fish, best of trip, 14″ – 15″ brown.  Nice jump, beautiful colors. THE END.”

What a difference a decade makes.  My wading skills have declined to where I barely get my waders wet.  My poor balance makes it nearly impossible to bend down to pick up the fish I catch.  The neuropathy in my feet makes standing in one spot downright painful (but still bearable).  Last week I broke my fly rod.  Was it a subtle message?  Maybe.  But, I had the warranty card, and it’s been repaired, and I’ll have it in my hands by mid-week.  For some reason, I’m not all that thrilled.

This year, I will not visit the Catskills for the first time in over 45 years.  There’s a good reason, however.  My wife, Becky, is having a “special” birthday, and I’m hosting a big party to celebrate the occasion.  Can’t do that and take a fishing trip, too.  So, no Catskills this season.  Maybe it’s just as well.  Life is changing, and mostly all that’s left are memories.  Reading my long-lost fishing journal reminds me that some memories are just as well kept on paper . . . where they’ll always remain fresh—and accurate.


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with a friend, or reblog it on your own site. If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to enter your email address and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. I only post one per week, and I never share email addresses. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at: http://www.joeperronejr.com.

Did I say I wouldn’t mention my new Matt Davis mystery, Deadly Ransom again?  I lied.  Seriously, though, it’s available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook.  Kidnapping, arson, cowboys & Indians; it has ’em all.  Curious? Check it out!  

 

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About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of four books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at: http://www.joeperronejr.com.
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11 Responses to In the end, it’s all about memories . . .

  1. Allie P. says:

    It is funny I read this today of all days. I’ve been culling through lots of various scraps of paper that I am convinced have been breeding while I have been at work, however many have notes written on them in my handwriting only I don’t particularly recall when or why I wrote it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Spent a couple of weeks rambling through school stuff this winter and so glad I took so many photos of kids, their projects and all the fun we had over the years. What prompted the search? Two things. 1) “At the End of the Day” (Moore) Bible study book; and 2) Letters and photos from two of my students over the holidays. (Ryan and his new bride) (Karen and her beautiful family). Feeling old and blessed, but still up to making more memories. And, Joe, I know you’ll have a great story to share and new memories to make with Becky’s Special Birthday Celebration to plan and manage. Have a blast! Oh, my best wishes to the Birthday Girl on her big day. 🙂 ❤

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  3. We do come into this life alone, and it is true, we leave alone, but the energy increases because of the pathway we have walked in body, in mind, in heart, and in Soul. We don’t leave behind us all that we have done. It simply adds to all we have become when we depart! Celebrate each day of life on Earth. Continue to add memories. Grow from the difficult times. Grow from the joyful times. You will be grateful to take all the love you have earned with you when you depart!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jane Raffo Nocella says:

    I love reading your blog. This one made me think of the many things I’ve experienced in the past. Some were happy and others not so much. Some were when I was single (Almost 50 years ago!), some with my husband, and many with our children. Now the grandchildren are helping us to create memories. Our lives are so different now because of age. 73 I think for you this year, 71 for me. We are a long way from hanging out in the Commons at River Dell! Our life experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly (pun intended) have made us the people we are now. You may not be able to fish as much, but you can write more. Look at all the life experience you’ve had to draw on for inspiration! I can’t wait to hear what else you’ve found in your cleaning up mode!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Glenda Beall says:

    Joe, I am glad to know you have a blog and I enjoyed this post. I am downsizing and going through things, coming across notes, letters, objects that belong to my late husband, and all the memories of our 45 years together roll in and I, too, realize that those days of riding horses, riding dirt bikes, and boating on Lake Chatuge are gone forever. The memories make me teary, but I am so glad I have them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Glenda. I shed a few tears writing this post. Luckily, most times when a memory causes me to tear up, the tears are often followed by smiles. May it be that way always for you, too. 🙂

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