With howling winds blowing across Lake Michigan and Superior, temperatures plummeting and snow rising, deer and other foraging mammals herd up in numbers amongst their own kind seeking comfort and a chance at surviving until winter’s grip relents and spring returns with its allure of renewal. The hardcore traditionalist members of the Ostrich Society are no different. Those not following the migration to warmer states for the cold winter months also herd-up seeking comfort amongst their kind in an effort to give sanity a shot at returning with warmer days ….the culprit of course, is cabin fever.
It’s been an established tradition with the membership that at least once a week they gather in the President’s garage – heated with an old pot-bellied wood burning stove – to tie flies. Unlike the regular monthly meetings, these gatherings begin in mid-afternoon and last until the allotted wood supply for the meeting is used up and the bourbon’s insulating affect has worn off. Anywhere from four to a dozen members can be found sitting around card tables and along the workbench, glasses perched on the tips of their noses as they tie barbules of feathers, strands of fur and hair or yarn taken from their wives sewing baskets onto hooks varying in size.
Last Wednesday was such a gathering of the faithful. The meeting had not been officially called to order, it just sort of got underway when Al and Pete showed up, lit the stove and poured two fingers of Maker’s Mark. By the time they got halfway through tying an Early Black Stone, Bill and Sam arrived with Carl and Walt not far behind.
Pete and Walt had their bird dogs in tow – both Britts – and after some traditional crotch and butt sniffing, followed by robust rubbing behind the ears, they settled down next to the fire. The scene might not have been one out of a Courier and Ives depiction but if someone had taken a snapshot, it might have hung next to the picture of dogs playing poker.
Walt brought a new vise and was anxious to show it off. It had been a Christmas present from his kids and though there was nothing wrong with his old Renzetti presentation, he felt obligated to use the new one made of space aged plastic with a lot of extra gadgets sticking out from it. He wasn’t sure what all the gadgets were for, but he wanted the kids to have gotten their money’s worth, so he began to set it up as the picture showed on the box.
Pete was on his third Stone when Al looked over at Walt and asked what he was going to do with that erector set he brought with him? Walt didn’t take the bait and poured himself his first glass of two fingers worth. After a quick gulp, he returned to trying to put the vise together.
All of a sudden one of the dogs startled everyone when he let out a loud yelp, jumped up and began running in a circle like he was chasing his tail. Sam grabbed him when he got close enough and rubbed his backside which was smoking until the dog relaxed. The dog tried to lick at the spot where the smoke was rising from but couldn’t reach it. A bare spot was now evident where fur had been only seconds before and two other spots were noticed.
“That’s the third time this week that dumb dog burned himself because he inched his way too close to a fire,” Sam said as he took one of the ice cubes from his glass and touched it on the dog’s bare spot. “Three times now he burned himself lying in front of a fire just staring at me while I try to put this vise together.”
The dog settled down and the Society went back to tying flies, all except Walt who was still trying to put his new vise together.
“Have you ever had a hook in that vise, Al asked?
“I haven’t figured out how it goes together yet; I’ve poked myself with these extensions, crawled on my hands and knees looking for nuts and small bolts I dropped; I even got so frustrated I grabbed the whole thing and threw it on the ground.”
“Geez Walt,” said Pete. “That poor dog isn’t trying to set himself on fire intentionally, he’s laughing so hard watching you imitate a monkey playing with a football, trying to set up the vise, he forgets all about where he’s at and backs into the hot stove.”
After chuckles of agreement, Walt gave up on the hi-tech vise, poured two more fingers and rubbed the dog’s ears. He could swear the dog was shaking like someone laughing uncontrollably.
These events were reported to be THE TRUTH, WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH….give or take a lie or two!