Friday, 24 January 2014

Confessions of a Lady Angler

"I got you an early birthday gift," he said, standing in the kitchen with the look of a small-time gambler who has just bet his house, car and kids on a hunch. I knew Husband had been to the fishing shop that afternoon, and so as he went to fetch said gift, I rolled my eyes at my sister, "He can't give me fishing stuff for my birthday? Surely not!"

My husband taught me to fly fish when I first met him. I joke that it was a pre-requisite to being proposed to, but none was more surprised than I to find that not only did I enjoy this new sport, but I wasn't too bad at it either. Call it my Scottish heritage, call it beginners luck - whatever forces were at play those 5 years ago, I picked up that fly rod and something magical happened in me. I became a fly fisher. Only I did not realize it till now.

A little slow on the uptake, perhaps, as I have found myself un-able to pass any body of water without looking into its blue, reflective depths wondering what fish swim beneath that surface: The first sign of a fisherman, they say. My father's many jokes about me having become a 'fishwife' have somehow floated over me, not quite the right twitch, the right colour, the right bug for me to have a go. Ha, ha, yes Dad. A fishwife. The significance gone undetected. After all, I have just been playing at fly fishing, haven’t I? I have happily gone along with Husband on many a fishing expedition, armed with my girly distractions: Pink fishing jacket, pink fishing hat. Even went scouting shoe stores for the perfect pink Hunter fishing wellingtons. 

I have followed Husband, fumbling with my line, learning to choose and tie on my own flies, slowly but surely getting more and more decked out so as not to need as much of his help - fly jacket, zinger, clippers, fly release tool for easy handling. (I always catch-and-relelase - letting them go, un-hurt, a little fitter for the next fight next season. I call it 'gym for fish'.)

I have been river fishing, still water fishing, even tried a day at estuary salt-water fishing with him and the other fishermen. I have fished in Dulstroom, in Gouritz, on Eilandspad, Holsloot, up in the Wittedrift mountains, on the chalk streams in England and in the Highlands of Scotland. I have fished enough to be able to say, with my own personal ichthyology, that fresh water salmonids (specifically trout and grayling) and South African Yellows are my favorite. I have frequented many a fishing shop and bought many a fishing thing, and can hold my own when chatting to enthusiasts about float tubes, spey casting, 2 weights and wooly buggers. But that didn’t make me a fisherman, I thought. Merely the wife of one. The journey has always been one I have attested to Husband, his passion, me just tagging along for the ride - albeit an incredibly enjoyable ride - in my pink gear. I never really thought of myself as an actual fisher women, just one who fishes with her partner.

"Here it is," he said, hopefully, pulling the mystery gift out from under his jacket. Pink. Tube. SAGE! I could not contain my excitement! I had to swallow my words to my sister as the rush for what was in that tube forced me forward, all fumbling and disbelieving and a smile so big it hurt my face. The rod inside was even more gorgeous that I could have imagined! A beautiful pearly pink Sage 5 weight called the 'Grace'

I pulled her out of her sheath and knew in that moment: Not only was this the absolute perfect gift for me, not only was I the luckiest woman in the world...but...
It hit me like a beaded fly, bulleted into the back of my head on a gusty day. I am a fly fisherwoman. I am an angler!

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

A River Runs Through

'The Lady of Shalott' - John William Waterhouse

2014, or the start of it at least, is going to be a year of acceptance - I can tell already. Sometimes the universe throws things at you and you can never fully understand why. It's in the asking Why where we drive ourselves mad. I have been reminded of that fact time and time again, but somehow it's a need that we as humans forget how to deal with very easily. Loss is the most awful thing we face on this earth because it feels so un-natural. Like some greater force lied to us. You worked for it, you deserved it. But then it is stolen. Un-fair, right? You love someone, they are taken away. Why? You desperately desire something, and it is held back from you. No rhyme or reason. After trying to blame yourself, your friends, your family, your community, the wind - all you feel is the injustice of it all. 

Blame is never a satisfying game because it isn't the answer. It seems there isn't an answer at all. But we do always have the choice of how we deal with our loss. The thing/person/love we wanted so badly is taken from us. Gone. It's time to accept that and realize that the world still has more to offer.

I see my life as a journey on a small riverboat. I started out on a river that was so great and fast and peaceful and lush and beautiful that my reality was wrapped up in it. I understood the ebbs and flows of it. It was all I knew, and all I ever wanted to know. But then, suddenly, I was taken off the river onto an offshoot. A stream that led in a different direction to the one I was watching, expecting, enjoying. The currents swirled and the boat was bumped around and as I stared back desperately at my precious river, I could not understand why it had been taken away from me. I fought and rowed, was thrown around, exhausted, suffered and bled. It was cold and dark and terrible. But hard as I tried, I could never get back up to the main river. 

After a long time, days and nights, ups and downs, the offshoot meandered through enough dense vegetation that I could not see the greater river anymore. Every glimpse was gone, even in the remnants of my dreams. I gave up. It was devastating. A kind of bitter sadness I can't even explain. My gut was hollow. My ears numb. I mourned that river because it was meant to be mine, right? So much happened on that river. Everything was so perfect and calm. I thought all my happiness had been stolen from me in that one, irreversible moment. But after a while, I realized that if I looked left and right, there were these beautiful flowers all alongside the new river I had joined up to. And butterflies - massive, bright butterflies. I had never seen such things before. Such beauty and diversity. It was all new to me, and I realized that I was facing the wrong way in the boat, staring backwards into the past, searching an ever-fading horizon for the lost river, and missing what was around me. 

I turned around and looked ahead, only to find that the new river was just as glorious, just as bright and full of amazing things as the old one, even having a few new things for me to enjoy that I had never seen before. I decided to accept it. After all, I was still here. I had time on my hands, and I still had my oars. I still had my boat, and my boat was here, so I may as well join it. I thought about my old river still, but only some times and only because the human mind loves to wonder about things. Perhaps there had been a waterfall at the end of that river? Perhaps I was better off on the new one.

Whatever the reason, I accepted and set up camp, as it were, in my boat. Settled in and made myself comfortable again. Rowing to keep on course and to miss the few protruding rocks that popped up every now and then, enjoying the new until it became the normal. I was happily flowing along for a long long time, and then it happened again. 

Just when my sights were set on the future, a swirl I didn't see coming threw me off course into another unknown. Rapids and turbid water. But as the wild sting of the unforgiving torrents thrash at my face, I know it will be OK. I have been in a place like this before. I know that this time, I will not face the wrong way. I will try not to glance back too much, but rather look forward. My river has changed paths again, and it's not my fault or anyone's around me. There is no Why. Why is a stupid question for an experienced off-course boat-person like myself, after all. Asking 'Why' is only looking backwards, facing the wrong way, trying to find answers I am not going to get while on this earth. All I have is faith, hope, trust, and my little boat. And my oars. I know that if I paddle myself smoothly down this uncomfortable stream, it will once again lead me to a new river, and I know that it will be OK. It is my new path and I accept it.

Acceptance can be a beautiful thing, though not easy. It is like learning a new piece of music on the piano - one that is harder than before, and the learning curve causes all kinds of frustration. But when I get past that uncomfortable part, the new learned song is so rewarding, not only for me, but also for those around me who get to enjoy the beauty of the song too as I play it.

Bring on 2014. I am stronger than before and am ready for my new beautiful river, whatever it may have in store for me. I can do this.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Science of Shoes

It's no secret that I love shoes. From childhood dreams of ruby slippers to my most recent purchase of Steve Madden boots, shoes have been a constant source of excitement and pure idolatrous happiness in my life. But not all shoes are equal.

When standing there in the Steve Madden store, purse in hand, contemplating buying this latest pair, I wondered to myself: Why these boots? Not that anyone should ever need a reason to buy something as fabulous as these tasseled beauties, of course, but I couldn’t help stop and go: Wait a moment. You always said you would never wear such high heels. So why these? They are 15cm's high! Is it the fact that they are Steve Maddens? (A brand I was introduced to by one of my favorite New York bloggers, Gala Darling, and who's picture of a particularly gorgeous pink pair has been the screen saver on my lap top for the past 3 years) Or is it because they are genuine suede, dove-soft, and have tassels? (I have a weakness for tassels - starting with a pair of boots bought a decade ago where I spent my rent money on them.) Is it simply that when presented with an image for long enough, even the abnormally insane can become acceptable and normal to the one perceiving it? 
(Jellies, anyone?) Or is it just a simple little bit of self-medication on a sad day?

 Let's backtrack shall we? Heels have never been a problem for me. Even in all my 6 feet of glory, I have loved the elevation and lift a pair of heels can give a girl’s physique. I feel that this boost has the ability to move beyond the physical, and acts as a sort of mood enhancer on any given occasion. But being 6 feet tall does add some complications to the wearing of extremely high heels. Doorways pose a problem. Even though making an entrance is always important, doorways are only generally so high, and I sometimes walk with a natural little bounce in my step. Bounce at the wrong moment with the 'wrong'/higher pair of heels on my feet and that is one entrance I don't want to make.

I saw these boots on a display with a lot of others. There were others that also had perfect arches, elegant compass worthy curves, decedent finishes. There were others a little lower with amazing scoops at the ankle line with the very best ankle to arch ratio, lovely stitching, sweet smelling leathers and colours. There were even others with tassels. But these particular boots spoke to me - almost reached out with invisible tentacles and drew me to them, as though casting a haunting mermaid song. 

This doesn't always happen. Sure it probably happens to me more often than most, but it doesn't happen with all shoes I ever come into contact with. And that is what got me thinking. Here is a pair of boots I don’t know that I will ever be able to wear out in public (for fear of concussions/breaking an ankle/intimidating Husband to the point of marital detriment) but I simply have to have them. I tried them on and they fit like a glove. Snug all the way up to the tip of the very last tassel! They were mine even before the gold card had a chance to swipe.

Some people say that angels speak to them or they hear voices in their heads? I hear shoes. There is an undeniable, underlying, otherworldly pheromonal attraction that happens with particular pairs of shoes that simply does not happen with others. 

That is when I realized it. Shoes must have an aura, something magnetic on a chemical level. It must be science. So not quite like gravity, but more specific – like the pheromones of a woman attracting a partner. Chemistry attracts us to people at all levels, makes us more comfortable with some and less with others. We choose friends based on this. We choose lovers. Doctors. We even choose teachers, when given the privilege to do so. It’s an invisible world of chemical attraction out there, and we are almost helpless to its currents and tides.

And so when presented with an invisible galactic wave, call it electrons and protons or what-have-you, of glorious tasseled suede Steve Madden's, I grabbed onto those babies and rode for all I was worth.

I am sure there is a scientist out there who can very eloquently disprove everything I have just said, but for now, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom