Free at Last, Free at Last

March 15, 2008: Come May 1, I’ll be retired from the corporate world for a decade. When I hung it up people at work ¬†asked what I planned to do.

I told them: “Write, fish, get a tan, get in shape, paint, wander aimlessly.” My response produced a lot of mouth-breather reactions.

I departed corporate life after 27 years and did not look back.

By chance, I renewed contact with my old friend Bob Lemieux and offered to teach him to fly fish and he accepted and once a week we drove two hours up to the Pere Marquette River, and were never skunked. I also introduced him to the Au Sable, Little Manistee, Big Manistee and Pine Rivers.

During the week, we skated daily at Wings Stadium, arriving every morning at 0730, on the ice and batting around pucks by 8. We amused ourselves by inventing games: faceoff dot golf, top of the net basketball, Lifter, Pipelino, Angles. We talk a lot about the outdoors, flies and trout, and he taught me certain expressions in the patois of French-speaking Canada, from the purely off-color to wildly romantic.

Our fishing routine, after June, was to arrive up north at 10 A.M., fish hoppers until 5 P.M., eat somewhere, and be back on the river by 7 to fish until last light. From his driveway to our parking spot at the river was 2 hours and 20 minutes.

I introduced him to some of my favorite spots and we saw deer, turkeys, blue herons, pats, woodpeckers, coons, possums, porkies, and other sideshows of woodsy world.

When we got ready to head home he’d say, “It doesn’t get any better than this,” and we’d put on a Clancy Brothers tape and head down a two-track with Irish music blaring.

It was the first summer I had been free since I was fourteen, 41 years ago.

Leave a Reply