Persistence

St Francis River in Silver Mines Conservation Area near Fredericktowm, MO.

“A river cuts through rock not because of its power but because of its persistence.” – Jim Watkins

Too many times we fall short of what we were trying to achieve in life because we simply gave up. Our life is littered with events that test our fortitude. We have a choice to give up or be like the river. How we face these obstacles determines if we succeed or fail.

Life and the River

St Francis River in Silver Mines Conservation Area near Fredericktown, MO.

“The river is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that.”-Eartha Kitt

Life is much like the river. Full of turns and bends leaving us to wonder what’s next and where we are going. We are just along for the ride letting it take us where it may go. As long as we maintain control of our vessel things will work out and we will reach the deep calm waters at the end of the rapids.

Camping at Silver Mines

St Francis River, in Silver Mines Conservation Area near Fredericktown, MO

On October 18, a good friend of mine met me at the Silver Mines Conservation Area. This area is named for the abandoned “Einstein Mine” where in 1870 was used to mine silver, tungsten and lead up until 1946 when the mine was closed. The area is known for its Precambrian granite and felsite rocks.

After a brief visit we began setting up camp. I had brought my Bushnell one man tent and Clarry opted for a hammock and tarp. I was amazed with the hammock setup. Clarry had it down to a science. When he was done setting up it looked very inviting. It was only his third time at setting it up. The temps got down into the upper 30s and he discovered some things he would do differently the next time.

After breakfast we decided down the dam on the St Francis river. It was built when they were mining the area. The trail actually goes across the dam to get to the other side of the trail and we thought about trying it but we were going to have to wade to do it and we decided against it.

We talked to another camper who had done it and he told us about two graves on the other side marked by two wooden crosses and the mine entrance was on the other side too but it had been closed off. The trail was pretty rocky and in places you had to climb over big rocks and because of my ankle not being fully healed we didn’t walk the entire trail and headed back to camp. When back at camp we sat around the campfire talking and we had a surprise visitor.

It was a great time. Trees were just starting to color and in another week should be in full color. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. We did meet a gentleman there who came all the way from Chicago to a camp a couple of days. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. It would be hard not to feel at peace with yourself while you were here. If you are looking for a place to camp where you can enjoy nature I highly recommend Silver Mines. It is located near Fredericktown, MO off highway D. In the spring when the river level is up they have kayak races.

It’s Been A Year

My cast after surgery.

A year ago today I was rolled into the operating room for a complete ankle replacement. It had been over 40 years since I had taken a step without pain. My doctor said this would take care of that but the healing process would take a year to a year and a half to be fully healed. So the journey began.

I have to admit the first three days I was in intense pain and the pain pills did very little to alleviate the pain. On the fourth day I got some relief but I was still in a lot of pain. I was beginning to wonder if I had made the right choice.

I was on crutches longer than was expected because when he went to secure my new ankle to the leg bone the bone splintered and an extra screw was needed and the bone had to mend before I could put weight on it.

Second cast

I received a new cast and then eventually a walking boot. There was still quite a bit of pain and I was experiencing a lot of swelling but I was on the road to recovery.

Six months went by then eight and then ten. I was still experiencing pain but there had been some progress.

I finally got where I could walk fairly well on flat ground but an incline or uneven ground was a challenge. After 11 months I still had pain at times but it was much better. I was really beginning to wonder if I made the right decision.

My foot at around 6 months

I finally made a decision to try the Blue Emu Oil with hemp and see if it would help. To my surprise it was quite effective and the pain began to melt away. I could actually walk without pain.

After a year I went down memory lane revisiting the ups and downs. I will admit that just 3 weeks ago I was wondering if the surgery had been worth it. Yes it was. It’s great to be able to walk without pain. I still have pain at times but I am confident in saying I will be fully recovered in the next six months.

After all the ups and downs it has been worth the pain to get to where I am today. I have started fly fishing again and hope to take my first big hike this weekend. If I had it to do all over again I would make the same choice. I no longer suffer from chronic pain.

My foot today

The Arrival of Fall

Fall has arrived here in Southeast Missouri. Breakout the pumpkin spices, the hoodies and the chili recipes. Let the bonfires begin!

Farmers will begin the removal and storage of their crops. The sky will be filled with the “honking” of geese as they begin their journey to their winter homes. We will soon awaken to cool crisp mornings with frost on the pumpkin. The countryside will become painted with bright yellows, oranges and reds. Mother Earth will show off her artistic abilities. Her forest creatures will be obsessed with gathering and storing their winter food.

Folks will turn to folklore to try and predict the upcoming winter weather. There are two particular methods that are popular in my area.

The persimmon seed. People will look for the ripe fruit and then they will remove the seed. They will split the seed open to see what shape, called a cotyledon, is hidden within. It is said that if the shape is that of a fork we will experience a mild winter. If it is the shape of a spoon we will have an abundance of snow and if it is that of a knife we will have a cold blustery winter so the saying “cut like a knife”.

Another popular legend is the “wooly worm”. The wooly worm is a caterpillar made up of 13 segments representing the 13 weeks of winter. The browner the worm the milder the winter. The blacker it is the harsher the winter. The number of black segments represent how many weeks of bad winter weather we will have.

Unfortunately there is no scientific evidence proving either method works.

Here in the Midwest we are fortunate to be able to experience all four seasons. Here in Missouri there are times you can experience all four seasons in one day. We all have our favorite seasons for one reason or another but as for me I am delighted that the fall season has begun. I can smell the chili cooking and the smoke of the bonfire.

The Curse of Opinions

“Everyone has his or her own opinion and I welcome criticism. That’s why we have freedom of expression and that’s also what I stand for – but I won’t stand for insults.” – Ilkay Gundogan

Talk to the hand because the ears aren’t listening. This seems to be the mantra of today’s society. There use to be a time in this country when two people of different opinions could partake of a little spirited debate and walk away still friends. Not so much anymore. No such thing as peaceful debate. Instead insults and juvenile name calling is more the norm.

Everyone is different. We all have different likes and dislikes. Some people like summer some like winter. There are those that prefer more government and those that prefer less. They are opinions based upon a person’s thoughts and life experiences. It doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong.

The reality is everyone is going to have a difference of opinion. It’s a given and we as a society need to learn to accept it, learn to live with it and move on. We have to learn to agree to disagree.

“The only sin that we never forgive is a difference of opinions.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I watch with great sadness as friends and family turn their backs on each other because of their differences of opinions. I myself have been called stupid, ignorant, moron etc. because my opinion is different than theirs.

I won’t apologize for my opinions nor do I expect you to apologize for yours. I am entitled to my opinion and you yours.

I am not responsible for your happiness. I am only responsible for mine. What I am responsible for is to be kind to you and to respect your opinions. No insults or name calling and to love you as I love myself.

It is time for us to stop, take a deep breath, think about what we are doing and fix it. To bury our differences, embrace each other and seek harmony. We need to eliminate the hate that is running rampant in our society. Can it be done? I don’t know but I do know the world would be a much better place and certainly worth the effort.

Thoughts?

“Utopias are often only premature truths.” – Alphonse De Lamartine

There are those that think the inequities in our society can be easily solved through a utopian society or government. They believe Utopianism is necessary to improve the human condition. The focus of literary utopias consist of equality in economics, government and justice. It all sounds great but the reality is societies don’t have the same desires and because of this conflict it’s impossible to satisfy society as a whole. In a true utopia everyone lives in harmony.

Is a utopia achievable? In a perfect world, maybe? It would have to be a world void of the hunger for power, greed and emotions. As long as these three are alive and well I for one believe it is highly unlikely that a true utopia could ever exist.

Greater minds than mine through the years have debated if a true utopia could ever exist.

Theodor W Adorno writes: “None of the abstract concepts comes close to fulfilled utopia than that of eternal peace.”

Return to Fly Fishing

First Catch on New Orvis


“Even a blind hog will find an acorn once in awhile.” Unknown

I destroyed my right foot over 40 years ago and the doctor put it back together the best he could. When I walked, there was a considerable amount of pain and it steadily got worse. I was forced to abandon fly fishing around 1990 because of the pain.

I bought my first fly fishing set up in 1976. I was hooked, no pun intended. I was devastated when I walked away from it.

In 2020 I met doctor Sloan who said he could fix it and I eagerly agreed on the surgery. I had a chance to pursue fly fishing again.

I bought a new Orvis Encounter combo. As soon as the doctor gave me the green light, because it was winter, I headed to a near by lake. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t land that first fish.

Yesterday I tried another area lake but the fish Gods weren’t in my favor. Since I’m not a quitter I returned today bound and determined to get that first fish.

The day started out a little better. I got some strikes and hung two but didn’t get them in. I guess I wasn’t holding my mouth right.

Then it happened. I had one on. I got it in and got a picture. It was official! I began doing “Snoopy Dog” dances all around the lake, yes even though it was no Moby Dick. I can tell you one thing. A 66 year old fat man doing “Snoopy Dog” dances is not a pretty sight. The word “repulsive” comes to mind.

All in all it was a good day. The “no fish” curse had been broken! I gained confidence and everything was grand in Wayne’s World.

Sacred Space

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.” – Joseph Campbell

I really never understood my overpowering compassion for the river until one day I came across this quote. I read it and the lightbulb in my head went off.

The river is my sacred space, or safe place, where I am free of societal pollution. Once I am in the presence of the river I am free to think with my mind, heart, body and soul. I have the ability to examine my own own beliefs and thoughts in great depth and to understand why I believe the way I do. I reach an understanding of who I really am and who I want to be. The revelation of what I want to accomplish in life and most importantly why becomes apparent. In this place I find a me that I can respect and love. If we can’t love ourselves what’s the point of loving at all?

With all the animosity in the world it is easy to plunge ourselves into the pit of depression which robs us of peace and happiness.

Seek your sacred space, find it and visit it frequently. The real you will soon become visible.

Gone But Not Forgotte

My best friend and me.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings

On January 1, 2011 a wonderful Australian Shepherd was born. Little did I know how much she would change my life and bring so much joy to me. She unfortunately had a rough start in life. She was plagued with crystals in her urine that caused immense pain and at a year old she would have hip dysplasia surgery.

After surgery.

She was comfortable on the couch so this would be her hospital bed. I slept on the floor beside her until she was able to get on and off the couch by herself. She would try to chew her stitches and I refused to force her to wear the cursed collar so I improvised.

She adapted well to the shorts.

I was a farrier and Kate became my ride dog. We were together everyday and became quite inseparable. She loved going with me and took her job at riding shotgun very seriously.

Kate riding shotgun.
Kate with me on the job.

Kate was very well behaved and loved to take walks.

I think she is trying to tell me something.

I have never owned a dog as loving as Kate. She had to constantly be by my side and if she wasn’t she kept an eye on me to make sure I didn’t slip off without her.

My constant companion.
In the Christmas spirit.

I have had several dogs over the course of 60 plus years but none of them touched me like Kate did. I was her human. She was a great listener and after a rough day she always managed to make me smile and lift my spirits.

Then the fateful day of a vet visit, x-rays showed her lungs were filled with tumors and there was no cure. I was devastated and my whole world came falling down around me. I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. She was my everything and more. I know there are those of you rolling your eyes and saying she is just a dog and to you I say you have never recognized nor appreciated the unconditional love of a dog. She was family. She filled me with joy and happiness.

Kate the puppy.
Her last day riding shotgun.

On Friday morning (Jan 24, 2020) I had to go into town. That morning she clung to me more than usual. When I opened the door she almost knocked me down to get to the truck. She was going with me come hell or high water. I had to help her into the truck and when we returned I had to help her out.

I had an appointment on Tuesday to have her euthanized to end her suffering. Little did I know but I think Kate did, that that would be her last ride and our last day together. We spent that day together and I cooked her a porterhouse steak for dinner. It was a good day.

She awoke me in the wee hours of Saturday morning, Jan 25 gasping for air. What happened then was down right ugly and heartbreaking. She fought hard and I felt so helpless. At 1:26 a.m. her fight was over. I had lost my best friend. At least her suffering was over.

Kate on her last day with me. RIP

Many won’t understand the devastation of losing a dog because they have not really understood the unconditional love they possess. The loss of Kate left a huge hole in my heart. I still come home looking for her to greet me. I am pretty much a loner by choice and I very rarely get lonely and when I do it is because of the void she left in my life. I will never forget her and the joy she brought me.

Meddlin’ Kate Jan 1, 2011 – Jan 25, 2020