I’ve forgotten wading boots, reels, flies and most of the time, my camera. This is the topper. It’s also a reminder of how far Rich Merleno would go to get you on the water.
My “stuff” was piled on my front porch steps waiting to be put into the Jeep. Sam just arrived and was making room for it and began loading as I mulled over whether or not I had everything I’d need for this long anticipated trip to Vermont’s Green Mountain country to fish the fabled Batton Kill. Nope, I had everything I would need and then some. Still I couldn’t get rid of that feeling as we drove toward the post office to mail a couple of bills.
Ahaa! I finally figured out what I had left behind – sunglasses. Sure enough, there sitting on the rail of the front porch were my custom made polarized sunglasses. Good, we were off again.
Maybe I was feeling guilty for leaving Seamus behind on this trip; he certainly gave me his most pathetic “don’t leave me dad” look as I tried to explain he couldn’t come and why; but in true Brittany fashion he put a guilt trip on me I couldn’t shake. By the time we were on I-94 heading toward the Blue Water Bridge, my mind was totally on what I expected to find on the Batton Kill.
Somewhere along highway 402, my eyes got as big as silver dollars as I sat straight up and realized I had forgotten, of all things, my vest.
At first I rationalized it wasn’t that important, but soon got that sick feeling as my heart competed with breakfast for room in m stomach. Fishing without the “stuff” in your vest is like a jockey sitting on a horse without a saddle or bridal. He’s in the race, but he’s not going to have a very good time. By now I was searching my mind for a solution to this disaster and began to prioritize what I actually needed and what was just dead weight in the bulky thing. I figured I could get along with just a couple of spools of tippet, some floatant and I could buy flies at the local fly shop; then I realized that the west was a compilation of all of my fly fishing experiences and the end sum of me. It contained everything I ever used or wanted to use as I had gotten into one situation or another where the query was presenting a dilemma that had to be overcome. In short, I was screwed.
As I began to total up the severe dent replacing the vest and contents would put in my budget for the trip, Sam –after he stopped laughing and reminded me of how unmerciful I’d be if he was the one that committed this stupid foux paux – suggested we look into having the vest sent to us by overnight mail. Naturally, not being my idea I scoffed. But soon I thought it might work if we could provide a destination address. Then it hit me. There is an Orvis shop in Manchester, why not check if the Orvis shop in Royal Oak would send it out with their evening mail to their head store in Manchester.
Rich Merleno is the manager of the Royal Oak store and he and I have developed a good relationship over the past couple of years (partly from me spending most of my retirement money on “sale” items in the store) or so I hoped. When I called the store, Rich answered, and I’m sure, judging from the laughter on the other end of the line as well as the laughter coming from the background when he repeated my dilemma, I at least had his attention. To make a long story short, he immediately offered to help and once my daughter brought the vest to the store, he sent it out with the evening mail. (My daughter is being treated for severe side pain due to uncontrollable laughter at “Dad” having made this goof and not her husband Sam),
With that settled, I became easy again as we drive through Canada, down Up State New York and finally into Vermont. Seeing the natural wonders like Niagara Falls, the Hudson River and the Erie Canal – remembering my history lessons these things were so much a part of – I relaxed as I shut my eyes reliving the old movies about the settling of the country when New York was the frontier. Once across the New York / Vermont border, the road seemed to wind more and the countryside became greener. The Green Mountains in the background brought to mind Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys and later the first stories I’d read about fly fishing and the rivers these mountains held.
We had arrived and tomorrow the others would arrive and I hoped my vest would arrive too. What’s in a vest? Well I guess more than I ever thought.