An oddly mild winter folded into an unseasonably warm first day of Spring here in Virginia, and I was lucky enough to spend the day at Rose River Farm. The peach trees had begun to blossom, bumblebees were everywhere doing their thing, and the trout were jumping with Spring Fever!
We fished dry flies exclusively all afternoon. It was the first time I’ve done that in a long time. But when trout are rising, and taking what you’re offering, there is just nothing like it in the world. My favorite rod for this river, a Sage 4-weight ZXL, loaded with Rio Gold line, is simply at its best with a long, tapered leader and a single dry fly. It casts effortlessly, and when I set a caddis down softly over a rising trout, and watch that little black speck as it disappears into a burst of water and motion, it’s as exciting as it was the very first time I ever experienced it. A confident hook set, the hiss of line snapping off the surface and then that awesome, unmistakeable tug of life vibrating through leader, line, rod, hand, and soul. A fight, a fish not quite ready to come in, a little more fight and then the match is conceded. Man, this is fly fishing.
Douglas, visible through the rocking chair as he fishes, told me how great this Palm Beer is, and he is right. This is an absolutely delicious product.
As we wrapped up our day on the water, lightning began to flicker over the mountains. While the grill warmed up, I set up the tripod and tried to catch an image of it. No luck, but I like the colors in this 20-second exposure.
I’m no connoisseur, but after a day of fishing, a bottle of this Malbec (okay, there may have been two bottles) from Argentina hit the spot with grilled rib-eyes so big I shared part of mine with Enzo, my gracious host’s Spinone. It was the first day of Spring, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.
My immensely talented friend Steve featured us and our entire crew in a comic for his web site, every nine minutes. Thanks Steve, I love it!
Please take a few moments and visit some of my Cool and Talented Friends linked on the right hand side of this page. There are amazing painters, innovative potters, dog loving photographers and watercolorists, wonderful engravers, brilliant artists who write about art, thoughtful photographers who write about the outdoors, and more. And I’m proud to know them all. Thanks for supporting them!
Yesterday was a nice, bright, early spring day, and all the dogs were relaxed and sunning on the front porch, so I thought it was time to try to get them all together for a family photo. This is easier said than done, of course. But I got lucky and caught them all in the same frame.
Starting on the top step, on the left is my boy Finn. He is a 4-year-old Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla and a very good, sweet boy. To the far right of him is Gromit, who we call Monkey more than Gromit. He is a 5-year-old Jack Russell. He was voted Most Likely To Not Be Available For A Family Photo. The one in the center, sporting the furrowed brow, is our new Basenji puppy, Petey. He hasn’t been here long, but is adjusting really well. He is a good boy. He seems very smart and thoughtful, and has a wonderful personality. On the bottom step is my very special girl, Winnie. She is a Wirehaired Vizsla too, and will turn four this summer. Winnie is a bit odd, though there’s more than a fair chance she gets that from me.
So, donkeys and horses and barn cats notwithstanding, there is the family!
I followed about a mile of deer trails with the dogs this evening, searching for antler sheds. No antlers spotted, but I did find this special little nest that must have blown out of a tree with the recent high winds we’ve been getting. I don’t know what kind of bird made it, something about wren sized I would guess. But I love the threads of frayed, plastic tarp this industrious bird weaved among the twigs.
It was early morning when I arrived with Winnie, my Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla, to a nearby neighbor’s property for some field training. With a whistle around my neck and a long check cord to deal with, I didn’t want to deal with a full sized camera. But I had my little point-and-shoot with me just in case.
She had just jumped out of the vehicle when this magical scene of mist, light and dew unfolded around her. I grabbed the camera and quickly took this photo, moved a little closer and took one more, then the camera shut off, battery dead. I only had a few seconds to curse my bad luck before the sun came up another fraction of a degree and the moment of light became ordinary again.
It is one of my very favorite pictures of my very favorite dog, and I am incredibly honored that it won first place in Virginia Wildlife Magazine‘s photo contest, under the category “A Dog’s Life.”
I have taken countless photographs over the years, and it’s very special to win a prize with this one, taken with a pocket camera, on a day when I only clicked the shutter twice. Proof that sometimes, maybe even most of the time, photography is about being at the right place at the right time, and recognizing it when you’re there. And, as the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you.
I am also very proud to announce another prize in the same issue of Virginia Wildlife. This photo of mine, taken alongside the Rapidan River in Virginia’s Madison County, received an Honorable Mention in the Landscape category.
The theme of this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Distorted. This odd photo instantly came to mind. A different twist on the panorama, it was taken with my iPhone on a recent hike. You can see my shadow, and my two dogs are there too. I like how it looks like it’s just us on our own little world. But that’s what a great hike on a nice day with your dogs makes you feel anyway, so maybe this isn’t quite as distorted as it seems at first glance.