Capt. Gary Henderson, Florida

January 10th, 2005

A Little Whine With Your Cheese?

By Captain Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson
I'm a subtropical kind of guy. I don't like cold water or cold weather, period. But we're having a heat wave down here in sunny Florida. No kiddin', it's January and it's in the lower 80's, for Pete's sake! Okay, so why am I sitting here at this stupid computer writing this little piece of drivel? Well, it started out like this...

Christmas morning was dreary, rainy and cold. Linda and I were to head out in a few hours to visit the kids in Lady Lake, a nice drive of say, seventy miles northwest of here. Okay, a bright spot to see the grandkids and have dinner. We just weren't sure if dinner was lunch, or if dinner would be supper. I figured I'd throw a few biscuits in the oven, you know, those frozen kind. (Mary B's Buttermilk Biscuits, try 'em, they're great). Anywho, I had pulled the honey and butter out, set a couple of plates on the counter, poured Linda a cup of java, and me a glass of iced tea. I leaned over to open the oven door to check on the progress, and WHAMO! Pulled a muscle in my lower back, actually it was more of a little "twinge." I figured it was due to my getting older, and I hadn't really done anything that strenuous. WRONG!

We had our makeshift breakfast. I loaded up the Explorer with the gifts and we lit a trail. About ten minutes into the trip and I started shifting and squirming in the driver's seat. Yep, the old lower back was rearing its ugly head. When we arrived at the destination, an hour and a half later, I almost had to be poured out of the seat. Felt like I was damned near dyin'! Then here came four grandsons out of the house, loaded with Christmas spirit attitude and pounced on Gramps! YEEOOW! (I silently wished at that moment, I was "loaded" with Christmas spirits.) So, off I hobbled to the couch with a whole lot less sympathy that I should have received.

Unfortunately, the kids had gotten their wish for the little prism-colored discs that were loaded up with exploding, video games. You know, the ones that we adults can't get to the first level, and they whiz right through them, yelping and arguing whose turn it is to blow up something on the game, and all the while jumping up and down on, yep, you guessed it, Gramps, who is now writhing in pain flat on his back on the sofa!

Okay, so I'll go out on the small porch and have a smoke. It's freakin' rainin' like somethin' stupid outside. Did I mention the porch is small? Nasty habit, especially in a downpour! Got soaked. So now I'm back on the couch, the other daughter shows up with three more grandkids, and immediately a fight breaks out amongst the little urchins 'cause there ain't but two of those infernal game controllers, and there's now six of the seven waging war using me as the battlefield! Oh yeah, and Linda goes and buys those blasted toys that make more noise than a five-thousand dollar surround-sound system!

We finally got to eat supper, and with much anticipation, I was ready to hit the trail back to some peace and quiet. Not so fast, Dude! The kids, during all the confusion, hadn't discovered the rest of the stuff I, and my poor old strained back, had unloaded from the truck. Round two. Back out in a biblical-sized flood, just to have another smoke, then back to the crowded settee and jumpin' young'uns!

Linda offered to drive home, but I figured since she was yawning as she offered, I'd better get behind the wheel, since I didn't want to be tangled up among the large pine trees that lined the road back to "peace and quiet." After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived safely and, once again, I had to be assisted to my awaiting couch and a heating pad.

Sunday morning I arose from a good night's sleep, only to find this little nagging itch in the back of my throat. I thought to myself, "It's nothing a hot toddy won't cure." It was really too early to pull a fifth of whiskey out of the booze cabinet, but hey, it was to be used as an elixir. It's justifiable, right? Linda crawls out of bed and the frown lines on her forehead question my method of madness as she observes me pouring up the concoction. After the third or fourth, maybe fifth steaming glass of the mix, the throat feels fine. Heck, everything was feeling fine. At one in the afternoon, I'm sportin' a little hangover watching a few football games on the television while it rains cats and dogs outside, all the while resting comfortably on a heating pad.

Monday, it's back to work as usual. Not quite yet, had to drive Linda to Auburndale for a business meeting that we had almost forgotten. She could have driven the two hours over there, but she wasn't really sure where it was, and being the kid that grew up in A-dale, I volunteered to do the chauffeuring. Did I say two hours in that damned truck again? Being the good guy that I am, here we go…two hours there; three hours of sitting in the vehicle's seat waiting, and two hours back home. Throat feels fine, back hurts like the dickens!

Tuesday morning comes and I need to get back to work. At ten that morning, the throat thing was back with a vengeance and something had gone totally awry with my entire system. I was slightly dizzy, my insides were arguing with each other's way of doing business and with a brief explanation to the boss (as he held a newspaper in front of his face, warding off my evils), I limped back home with the flu. More hot toddies and off to bed.

Wednesday morning I was thinking seriously about jotting down a will, as I poured yet more steaming, liquored up drinks. I looked outside at a slick lake and sunshine. I clicked on the TV, immediately began cussing out the weatherman as he described the next few days on his projected forecast. It was to be in the upper seventies and low eighties for the next five days! Believe me, a fly rod was the last thing on my mind, but the first thing I thought of as I limped back to bed.

New Year's Eve the fever broke and I began to almost feel like myself again. The long rest had cured my back pain, but I had burned up a week of leave and I knew the mountains of paperwork would be piled high on my desk awaiting my return, and yep, the temperature outside was a balmy eighty-one degrees with light to variable winds!

This morning, on my way back to work, I passed at least ten or twelve boats heading in the opposite direction I was going. There were flats boats, bass boats, center console boats, jon boats, canoes! I muttered obscenities in the direction of each and every one of 'em, too! I drove over the St. Johns River Bridge; the water was as slick as a baby's rump. The sun hadn't risen yet, the back was fine, and there was only a slight hoarseness in my voice as I swore in the direction of yet another lucky, "I'm takin' the day off to go fishin' jackass"!

It's Friday. I'm behind my desk. The temperature is still eighty degrees outside. I still have a pile of stuff to get done by this afternoon. My back is totally cured. There's no sign I ever had the flu.

I thought about going next door and asking the new boss for another day off for mental health reasons. I filled out a leave slip and just as I opened my office door, it started raining like hell!

I want some cheese to go with this fine whine, please!

See y'all next week. ~ Capt. Gary

About Gary:

Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area. After moving a little closer to the coast, his interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."

He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the waters will ever be present.

Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater patterns in the early '90's and has participated as a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting and tying instructor and stained glass artist, creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.

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