Ladyfisher
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

August 27th, 2001

What Are We?


Things have changed over the past generation or two. I hear the phrase "extended family" a lot on television and radio. I'm not sure exactly what that means.

Occasionally I hear of a family reunion. They used to be a very big thing and family members would travel great distances for the 'big event.' Weddings and funerals were the other 'biggie' - folks who hadn't seen each other in years would show up and re-establish family connections. In some ways High School Class Reunions were similar, a way to connect with ones past and to measure how far one had come in the ensuing years. The women were better looking than most of the guys remembered, while the men lost some hair and gained a waist-line.

My husband JC and I are both 'only' children. No brothers or sisters, and most of the aunts and uncles have long since passed away. Our own children are spread around the country and we just don't see them. Family has a far different meaning than it did some years ago when being a family member carried some sense of responsibility to other family members.

It's no doubt a sign of people changing jobs more often, moving and not working for the same company as our parents did. Most often husband and wife both work, and time demands are awful. We've all declared our independence - we lead busy, productive lives far from our roots and kinfolk. We've left our 'Home Waters.'

But that leaves a hole. Something missing. A sense of loss.

The word 'family' has a familiarity to it, and one hopes family members are friendly - but the difference between family and those we meet away from the family is that family members share a frame of reference. They've grown up in the same circumstances, the same place, sharing the same values.

Someone mentioned "like minded" people when describing the Fish-In. We supposedly had a common bond, wanting to fish somewhere neat. But that can't be it. Some who attended the Fish-In 2001 fished very little - a couple not at all. But they had a great time and will come again next year.

We put The Fraternity of Fly Fishers on our front page a while back because we wanted Fly Anglers OnLine to be a place where anyone interested in fly fishing could come to find real information and share their experiences. It has become more than that.

Saying "goodbye" to our friends at the Fish-In brought all of this to mind. The folks who came, those who email us, visit the Chat Room and post (or read) the Bulletin Board have become our 'extended family.'

There are many, many more whom I don't have 'real' contact with - several thousand people read FAOL every week. Less than 10% of our readers ever go to the Chat Room, and there are, as of today, 1420 registered to post on the Bulletin Board. Again, less than 10% of the number of readers of FAOL in any given week.

So the only contact we have with 90% of our readers is through the information we provide. If you think about that a bit, it can be a little scarey. It means we have the responsibility to provide good information, tell the truth, and point people in the right direction. We have the opportunity to influence how people around the world think and feel about their specific fisheries. We can set the standards for those just coming into fly fishing. We can nurture and mentor - much like the family members did years ago. The only thing missing is a hand on the shoulder or a pat on the back for something done right. Or me yelling at you to "Get your back cast up!"

We sincerely hope you find that sense of 'family' - folks with a common frame of reference here, and we sincerely welcome your ideas, suggestions and articles. You do have a seat and a voice at our family table. ~ LadyFisher

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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