Saturday, March 5, 2011

Montana Fly Fishing

So I just bought a new camera.  Now the trick is figuring out how not to look like a total douche while using it.

I have a real love/hate relationship with this blog.  Blogging seems to be turning into an increasingly feminine pursuit and that concerns me.  Not to mention that about half of the posts that I start turn into gibberish and never get finished.  But the fact is that I love writing and have since I was a small child.  And while my normal topics involve things that I think are funny or interesting, sometimes I just feel like writing about something that is truly important to me.  So in a break from the normal format of MOBIYM, I want to write a bit about possibly the only thing I am truly passionate about.  If you are looking for laughs, it may be time to stop reading.

Those that know me well have likely grown tired of my constant expressions of love for my home state of Montana.  I talk about it way too much, so much so that I probably come off pretentious.  Is Montana the best place in the country?  In the world?  Well to me it is.  That's not to say that everyone should feel the same way, because they shouldn't.  For many people, most people, Montana is not an ideal place, and that is a big part of what makes it so great.  I do not think Montana is better than other places (except Colorado) but I do think that it is better for me, and regardless of where I live, it always will be.

Now, it is difficult to really determine why I have fallen so deeply in love with a place that can at times be very hostile and unlovable.   Montana is a very beautiful state, but so are many others.  The answer is very subtle and is something that I discovered while fly fishing.  Fly fishing has taught me that Montana is a place where wilderness can still be found, and a place where that wilderness is still appreciated and valued.  For me, wild forests and water have a way of masking your worries, and they can bring a clarity that I have a hard time finding anywhere else.  Some of the biggest rewards I have ever gotten have been through a relationship with nature that I strengthened while fishing a wild Montana.

Fishing is not just a hobby for me, it is a release and often even a spiritual pursuit; it is a gentle reminder that there are still primitive things in the world and those things are not to be ignored, but benefited from.  And I'm not just speaking about trout and animals, but also the water, the insects, the trees and the intoxicatingly fresh Montana forest air.  At times fishing or even just exploring Montana is a way to relax and enjoy time with people that I care about.  However, when I take the trip alone or with someone that has a similar passion for wild things, it becomes a much more therapeutic experience.

I don't wear waders or bulky gear when I fish, and aside from the fact that they look a bit goofy, I never really understood why I didn't like them, until recently when my younger brother brought it up and made me think about it.  The waders keep you from really being in the water and they keep you from feeling the touch and push of the river.  I know that sounds cheesy, but it is completely true, and it illustrates why fishing has become so important to me, and to my brothers for that matter.  Because it is constant, unflinching and unpredictable all at the same time.

I love catching trout, it is exciting, and I also happen to think that next to women,  trout are just about the most beautiful things ever created.  But catching fish is not always my main reason for fishing, my reason is generally to leave something in the river and forests, and to come away better.  In a way, fishing is sometimes like a type of personal sacrament for me, and that is what makes it very sacred and sustaining.  It is a way to stay connected to the natural part of my life, a part of my 27 year existence that has become increasingly important to me in recent years.

For a few years I dated and fell in love with a girl that added a lot of complication to my relatively peaceful life.  In fact, for a while, our relationship completely ruined it.  But I loved her in spite of our problems for a few reasons, some of them more noble than others.  Unfortunately, a main reason for loving this girl was because she practically completely understood my passion for Montana, the river and fishing.  Almost more so than anyone I have met to this day.  I recognized this understanding when she wrote me a note, a note that out of dozens was the only one I kept.  I kept it not as a token of my old feelings, but because she effectively said what I had always struggled to make sense of.  She perfectly analyzed my relationship with my favorite creek when she said:  You can so easily bring your stress and the confusion of the world to the woods and wash it away in the river.  During those times you are so distant from everything.  

 Now that may sound like an incredibly selfish reason for me to care about a person and it probably was, but it was strangely comforting that she understood my reasons for fishing, and in some ways it allowed me a way to express my passion for my water and my forest even when I was hundreds of miles away.  Needless to say, this was a relationship that was built on a pretty poor foundation, and a "marriage" relationship is obviously made of something much more substantial than one shared understanding, regardless of how important it is.  When you feel the same way about a river as you do a woman, things are not going to end well.  But at the same time, that may be one of the highest compliments that I could ever give this particular girl.

I bring all of this up because it correctly demonstrates the most important and sometimes dangerous reason for my love of Montana and fly fishing.  Because when I am driving through Rock Creek canyon, or when I am walking through the waist high grass to the Bitterroot, when I am lost in the comfortable rhythm of my cast, or when I am bringing a trout to briefly have a pretty horrible experience, I am also bringing something very wild to the surface,  I am forgetting the complications and the things that do not matter and remembering the things that do.  It is important for me because it has helped me cope with just about any problem I have ever faced in my "adult" life.  It  is dangerous because it has become something that I rely on.  Fly fishing for me is a way to learn from the wilderness rather than conquer it.  It is a personal way to know God through some of his most impressive creations.

Monday, January 17, 2011

PIne Pants, a Gentlemanly Pursuit

This picture is incredibly intriguing.

How did this dinosaur get there?  What is he doing in the house?  Is he napping?  I like to think that the most likely situation is that the dinosaur snuck inside, quickly ate the residents, and just got a little tired after his meal and decided to take a nap upstairs.   But who knows if that is the story that goes with this picture.  All I know is that I like it.

Throughout the history of the world, mankind has participated in different competitive events.  Some of these events and sports slowly gained more and more prestige and were considered to be the pursuits of the refined and sophisticated.  Polo, Tennis, Golf, Fox-Hunting, Pistol Dueling, Fencing and others are commonly regarded as some of the more civilized athletic contests.  Today, I wish to submit an addition to this list: Pine Pants

Pine pants is a game that was invented by my younger brother Jeffrey and my cousin Brent.  It is a two person game and it is genius.  The rules of the game are as follows:
First, each competitor picks about six ponderosa pine cones.  Ponderosa cones are used because of their density and specifically because of the sharp spines that are found on the outsides of the rather large cones.
Brutal Cones

Participants are encouraged to search for the pine cones that are heaviest and sharpest, as it will pay dividends throughout the competition.  Once the cones have been gathered, each competitor will put on the official uniform of the game which consists of a pair of basketball shorts and several rubber bands.  The rubber bands will then be placed around the leg openings of the shorts while the gentleman is wearing them, effectively sealing the shorts.  The shirt is removed, and gameplay begins.

The player on the defense will pull the waist of their shorts out, stretching the elastic and creating a basket area.  Then, the other contender will carefully choose from their pine cones and lob their chosen cone through the air with the intent of landing it in the shorts of the other participant where it will be stopped from falling out by the previously mentioned rubber bands.  The goal of the game is to land the highest number of cones in the pants of the other competitor, potentially harming their genitals in the process.  At times, a gentleman will hurl the pine cone with great force at the chest of the other individual in order to cut them and throw off their concentration.  Once all cones have been landed, a penalty is carried out by the person who has the highest number of pine cones residing in their shorts.

This penalty can be excruciatingly painful for the gentleman who has the misfortune of losing.  Common penalties include a number of consecutive summersaults, jumps or rolls with a cluster of pine cones still held tight to your nether-regions.  Men are separated from boys during these grueling penalties.

                                                             A Game In Progress

Pine Pants has become an honorable tradition around the Larson home, one that is held in the highest esteem.   Champions are praised and adored while the loser is scorned.  Should you choose to play at home, please do your best to maintain the noble spirit and dignified tradition of the game.