Have you ever worn an outfit that was made up of conflicting colors or patterns? Are there too many things in life that we try to keep in check?
When I first started fly fishing in the early nineties, I would make at least one trip a year to the Wolf River in Langlade County, Wisconsin. This is a large freestone river well used by kayaks and rafters and fly fishers. It runs through the Nicolet national forest and it has that strong feel of a wilderness river with plenty of solitude. The Wolf River was the first place that I experienced a huge blanket hatch. The dark evening sky was filled with millions of bugs, but none of them cared at all about me. They were there to reproduce.
Next to this wild river there lived a man. He had adapted his living room into his fly shop. The sliding deck door became his shop’s entrance. His bar had become his sales counter. What I remember most about this man was his great attitude and that he always seemed to be wearing double plaid. He always said that we could fish the river next to his house and he always loved to talk. His spirit was infectious, and his happiness was brighter than the sun.
This man passed away several years ago. I remember returning to his shop/ house and finding out of his passing. The world needed more people like him, so it was sad to me that he was gone.
My fishing friend and I always joked that we wanted to be someplace like that in our lives someday, and I spread this word to my future wife and others who would listen. Someday maybe, I would wear double plaid too.
At the time I lived in the heart of Milwaukee among all the chaos of a big city. Friends getting jumped and robbed. People passing away in their little apartments, but no one knowing for weeks. Sirens, car alarms, and just crazy stuff happening everywhere. Peace and double plaid sounded warm and inviting to my soul.
It’s been several years since I’ve visited the Wolf River, but I’m sure if I went, I would think of him. I’m not quite there in my life yet, but I do live in a more peaceful town where people say hi and mean it. I have great love for life, family, nature, kids, bugs, water…the list could go on and on. Double plaid is a state of mind to me, and it’s worth working toward. Peace can be in the future, but I think it can be now too. My nine-year-old daughter still wears conflicting outfits sometimes, and sometimes I just let her do it.
Digging through old notebooks I found this poem that I wrote for my wife when both of us worked and our kids were much younger.
If we had time, And no distractions, We’d be snuggling. We’d be wrapped up In each other- Like a warm bed. Oh we have love, And life, And new life. You and me. Me and you. Double plaid And redundant walks And smelling hair too. All I can still say Is from deep inside I love you.