Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Outdoor Voice

Same shirt, different fish

"We're using our indoor voice."  I've actually heard some mothers say this to their kids.  Luckily, my parents never used that kind of ineffectual droning on me, which saved me an early hobo life of grifting.  Instead they just sent us outside.  I grew up outside literally- my step-mother worked nights as a nurse, so I spent entire summers outdoors all day long, until I turned 14, at which time I started working outdoors.  Even when I grew up and moved away to New York City, I ended up working outdoors, doing exterior building maintenance on high-rise buildings for my first four years there.  New York was a tremendous adventure.  I yearned to escape the tediousness of rural life, what I saw as a predictable timeline and foreseeable future- the menial job, a wife, children, the unchanging-ness of rural life.  While it was one of my most formative episodes, working outside in New York those four years may have saved me from the more hellacious aspects of city life- the noise and stench, the crowds, the constant awareness borne of being in a predatory environment.  The bubble-boy narcissism of a society completely absorbed in itself.  Working outside in New York was the closest thing to fresh air you could get, and I regularly saw hawks or even peregrine falcons bombing by.  I recall once sitting, drinking my tea from the top of a very tall building overlooking New York Harbor, and upon hearing some low musical notes behind me, turning to find a mockingbird, watching me from ten feet away, quietly singing to himself while I enjoyed my tea.  For that moment I could no longer hear the BQE.  Quite often I would look out onto New York Harbor only to recognize the signs of breaking stripers and bluefish- the wheeling terns and gulls, the frothing water.  The way to tell which was breaking was easy, by the way- if it was bluefish, the birds would refuse to dive into the water, not wanting to risk a bite from their piranha teeth.  All of it ignored by this world of commerce.  But I digress.

I'm not The World's Greatest Angler, I'm a novice fly tyer, my roster of angling accomplishments is woefully threadbare.  One could say "distinctly Unaccomplished" but that pseudonym has been taken and I've ridden those coat-tails far enough.  I may have reached the "average" level in the casting department.

another cast gone wrong

But my not being an "expert" may be a good thing for you the reader- I'm able to offer you a ground-level, boots-on perspective.  In half of the outdoor writing I read, I can't tell if I'm getting the authors thoughts or I'm reading a gear catalog or travel brochure, bought and paid for by their sponsors.  I respect all those authors- it is a trade; I certainly know the compromises I've made in my business, some good, some bad.  What I bring to you is an over-abundance of enthusiasm coupled with extensive time spent in the outdoors.  A do-it-yourself work ethic, 45-50 days a year bow hunting Michigans 90 day season, several years of 100+ days spent on the water, that without being a guide; I've organized and led multi-day kayaking excursions for my friends in remote places, driven hundreds of thousands of miles on road trips across this country and Canada in pursuits both pleasurable and professional. I've fished many dozens, if not a couple of hundred miles on my local trout streams.  I've taken a lot of pictures along the way.

more than just fly fishing
I've done all this as a working man with a business and family obligations like you, bills to pay, friends to keep in touch with.  I've made do with the gear I have and could afford- none of it the latest and greatest.

I'm writing this in celebration of the 1000th page view of my blog- I'm not sure how great a distinction this is, but it indicates at least some interest- you are listening.  I have always been a writer at heart; my teachers in grade school leaned on me heavily to pursue it, and I've always been an avid reader.  Until now I've kept it all bottled up, kept my voice low.
I hate the state or our media-driven, 24 hour news cycle, Top 40, politically correct, pundit laden discourse.  I want to offer an alternative voice in the outdoors, hopefully a refreshing voice of reason. 

What I'm hoping is that you'll continue to tune in- take a break from your job, read my blather over your morning coffee, or turn off the television, put the kids to bed and escape outdoors with me.

I'll be here, using my Outdoor Voice.


my front row seat to the outdoors


  1. All you have to do is keep talking in that Outdoor Voice and we'll keep listening.


  2. Very nice post. I can definitely identify with most of your sentiments.
    By the way, I think your teachers were very perceptive.

  3. You write good - had me at "unaccomplished". Bring on the outdoor voice. Nobody likes to be shushed.