This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
January 5th, 2009


Different cultures have quite varied ways of celebrating or ushering in the New Year. We watched a little of the celebrations across the country on the telly on New Year's Eve and for the life of me I can't understand why however many thousands of people would want to stand in Time's Square in the cold to watch the ball drop. But then, I'm old and don't much care for big crowds. Going to a classical concert is too much of a crowd - so I guess I don't fit in with whatever that group/crowd mind-set is. We outgrew the big drinking New Year's Eve parties many years ago.

Out here in the great Pacific Northwest the big deal is to be at the Space Needle in Seattle for the fireworks and noise on New Year's Eve. It's broadcast on TV too, and I don't think we missed anything by not being there. The music was so bad, we turned it off. There were some fireworks here in our neighborhood. It is legal to buy fireworks on the Reservation here and while it technically isn't legal to shoot them off except on the Reservation, it is done - a lot. The police just ignore it (both on the 4th of July and New Year's Eve.)

One of the more interesting, and probably a lot more sensible traditions is the Asian one which requires all of the previous years bills are paid in full before the start of the new year. I think that applies to the Asian New Year, not the American calendar New Year. It would be very nice to start the new year with a clean slate - probably very few could pay off everything - including the mortgage and car payment. But it is an admirable tradition nonetheless.

Traditions are interesting. We as Americans don't have very many which are just ours. Ones which are really celebrated, not just 'legal holidays' are limited to maybe the 4th of July and Thanksgiving. Our President's Day has deteriorated into a big retail sale event and not much to honor President Washington and Lincoln. Some years ago each had their own 'day' and the history of those presidents was taught in grade school. In fact there were even re-enactments of special events in those presidents lives on their 'day'. Most of our other traditional holidays are shared by many other countries.

I was discussing the lack of tradition with a friend the other day, and we laughed when remembering the time, not all that long ago, when a woman would not attend a church service, a funeral or a social event without a hat and gloves. Men wore white shirts, ties and of course a suit - or at least a nice sport jacket and dress pants. Not so today. Torn baggy blue jeans and the scurvy are in 'style'. Not good taste, but that doesn't matter. Good taste, courtesy and general civility in our society are either long gone, or going fast.

Is it any wonder then, that we see fly fishing in a different light? That there seems to be a resurgence of interest in bamboo fly rods? That the camaraderie and fellowship which happens at one of our Fish-Ins is so appealing? People who are trying to make a connection with a time past? To re-establish a sense of tradition in their lives? To share time and space with people who are like-minded and have a common frame of reference? That the "Old Flies and Stuff" section of Fly Anglers OnLine (FAOL) is one of the most read?

What is the interest in the old stuff? Is it just curiosity? Who did what or wrote what when? Is there really anything new in fly fishing? Or has it all been done or said before? Why do bamboo rod makers continue to use tapers from the 'old masters'? Were they really the best tapers? Or aren't today's cane rod makers capable of creating new ones? Or have they all been used?

Or are we searching for some sense of continuity, tradition to live by?

So much of what we were raised with as 'tradition' is gone. The younger folks may not have been exposed to them at all.

And the search goes on. ~ The LadyFisher

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