Back from vacation and I had a great surprise -- a woodworking book and a great note from Ron Nelson. There is something peaceful about the weeks following a vacation, not all boo hoo sadness and that sort of thing. No, it is more like reflection, a time when you think and plan a bit for the next round. This time for me was all about camping. I'd built a new roof rack, out of solid oak this time, and I encourage everyone with a plane and a saw and a weekend to craft a car roof rack. Why pay $200 as an entry fee into the "now I must buy expensive accessories for every item to be ported" club? Oh, and you want locks?? That is $50 more. Ha. Just bolt the thing down and see if the perps come prepared with a deep 5/8" socket and a Crescent wrench. Like they would want it anyhow.
So I got back and started to clean up and get organized. Stowed the rods and reels and cleaned up my tackle box. Aired out the ponchos and packed up the Thule roof top bag (which I love by the way -- the smart solution to the whole rack/storage thing). Meandered around the web and bought a nice, smallish fixed blade knife and some good old 550 cord. Researched how to tie knots for tent guy lines so that I dispense with those annoying plastic things that have already started breaking.
I also went out and bought an old school Coleman propane lantern. I have a nifty little fluorescent one, and for a moment I was in the marketing tractor beam of the bigger fluorescent ones, but I just can't believe that they throw enough light, or the right quality light, and who the heck can preview these lanterns in the blackness of night?
Plus there is something nice about the fat propane tanks and how they screw into everything. And they get hot. Doesn't that fend off bugs, at least a little? Well, that is all part of the meditation phase I guess, being stuck with one foot in the next generation and the other foot in my own experience growing up. It is a wonderful place in history really, to be standing right smack on the dividing line between computers and computers with the INTERNET. Two vastly different worlds.
And so I sit on the deck decompressing, wireless with the laptop, listening to the hiss of the gas burning hot in the lantern. I think about a Kindle and how I'll probably get one soon, but I have stacks and stacks of books to get through yet.
One of my professors gave the memorable advice that until you get to the point you can recite poetry from memory it will never really be with you, and he was dead on about that. One great drawback to the internet age is that we lapse into thinking we can lookup anything on demand, so we go wide and shallow instead of deep. I think about the great satisfaction of tying knots -- just a few that I know, but I KNOW them -- and how those skills keep us in touch with our past. A month ago I pruned limbs off a tree in the back yard and remembered how to tie a Swiss seat from the army days to keep myself safe. Whatever it may be that serves as the touchpoint. A beloved old pocket knife, like the Barlow one that belonged to my dad. The worn cast iron skillet. The Mitchell reel, still working like a truck after 35 years. Nice to have these things in life.