This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

January 18th, 2009

There's 'Friends' and then there's...

The letters and email.

Sometimes when one of our readers sends in a contribution to Friends of FAOL they include a nice note or letter, telling of either how they found Fly Anglers OnLine or something about how the web site has influenced their life. So far we haven't received one from a wife explaining how neat it is to have a happier or better adjusted husband, but I expect that to show up one day too.

One of the actual letters which came this week remarked on the fact the person wasn't much into computers, actually was hauled kicking and screaming into the world of the Internet as part of his business update, and "swore I would never surf the web, participate in bulletin boards, or let another machine intrude on my life" - and now how much it means to him to have the connection with other fly fishers - either on the Bulletin Board, or the friends he has made via email from other FAOL folks.

We have other readers who really don't have much of a social life, due to age or physical problems and have found the loneliness banished because of the connections they've made in the Chat Room and Bulletin Boards. For many others FAOL is a piece of sanity or "a breath of fresh air" from their daily lives. I was going to say 'just' a piece of sanity, but thought better of it when I realized how rare sanity has become in our society.

Over a long winter, we've heard from others who've mentioned how the content on FAOL, particularly the Fly of the Week and articles from our writers kept them 'in the loop' and made the winter at least bearable. Others that made arrangements to meet somewhere and fish - or hit one of the tying events (like the up-coming Sow Bug) and spend some time just visiting with a bit of fishing thrown in for good measure.

A recent email remarked on how the person had totally forgotten about Vince Marinaro's books and how much he had enjoyed them years ago. After reading a topic on the Bulletin Board, he dug them out, re-read them and was amazed at how much 'real' knowledge he had missed on the first reading. Now I, getting grayer by the day, hesitate to mention we do see things differently as we get older, but certainly our perceptions do change. (Read Castwell's column this week.) But it really is neat that discussions on the Bulletin Board do cause people to investigate subjects and aspects of our sport on their own and improve their knowledge. Who knows the eventual results of such? Perhaps the best fishing year ever? Or a technique never tested and now found to be far superior? Or finding a way to contribute in their local community or teach a kid to fish or a friend to tie flies.

A recent email from a Major in the US Army serving in the UA, asked the name of the book I mentioned in my column a couple of weeks ago. I did send him the information, but his story was just so neat. Here's a man stationed in the Arab desert, reading FAOL and finds my article about Wilsall, Montana. Turns out he had vacationed a while back in Melrose, MT and said he just loved it. He ordered the Travis Corner book so he could re-touch some of the memories of that trip and vacation, he probably falls under the maintain sanity classification.

There the are the full circle connections. We were contacted by one woman who was doing a search on her grandfather and found him in one of Roger Stouff's articles. I forwarded her email on to Roger who was delighted to hear from her. Or one from an old childhood neighbor of Fritz Fratz's who found him on FAOL - and I was able to put them in contact with each other. Fritz-Fratz said it was one of the most important things to happen to him in years!

I've been contacted by folks who are not fly fishers who stumbled onto FAOL because of my articles on where I grew up. One has put together a free website for people who grew up in Rogers City, MI. Turns out his aunt and uncle were neighbors of my grandparents on the same street.

Over the last few years, we've had contacts from people in many foreign countries as well, recounting their trips to the US, the people they met - and some who they re-discovered here on FAOL. How neat is that?

Our email also bring us new writers, new ideas for articles or sections - and Fly of the Week submissions as well. Most are from people we've never heard from before. But for a variety of reasons, they decide they may have something to contribute. It is a very rare occasion to turn someone down - we believe we all have something to add, and Castwell really is a good Editor. (That is meant to be a word of encouragement if you've been thinking about sending something in and are worrying about the quality of your writing.) Our Editor can 'fix' an article and still keep the voice and tone of the writer. That's an art in itself.

We don't have mail delivery where we live, so JC makes a run to town, about 8 miles, to the Post Office to pick up or mail stuff out every day (he also does the grocery shopping). When he comes home, I usually pour us both a fresh cup of coffee, and sit down at the table with him to go through the mail. I have to say, receiving a package from England with a cd for a Fly of the Week (and sometimes a sample or two for my fly box) really is like Christmas. Having a check for Friends of FAOL is very nice too - but quite often, the note or letter with it makes my day...sometimes it even makes my column.

Thanks so much to all who write, send email and share your thoughts and ideas with us. We really do appreciate your input - and hope you feel free to contact us. ~ DLB

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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