"Fly fishing is my passion, hunting is my weakness, and mules are a perplexing addiction."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

      It will no doubt be a subject of debate for centuries to come.  Scholars will hotly conjecture the yea's and nay's in lecture halls, classrooms, and textbooks all around the world, and so heated will the arguments be that one thing is for certain; there will be fisticuffs.
      The question most often asked of me is, "Hey Tom, you're not gonna write another book, are ya?"
      "As a matter of fact I am," I'll reply.  "Wanna hear about it?"
      "No, not really."
      Then there's the inevitable follow-up question, "Hey Firth, have ya ever considered professional counseling?  I mean, where in the world do you come up with this stuff anyway?"
      Well, I'm glad you asked because the answer to that burning question is multiple and complex.  You see, sometimes my ideas for stories come early in the morning when I'm out hunting, sitting on some frigid, craggy canyon wall, or perched atop some steep, wind-blown peak watching the sunrise while I'm coughing up a lung at ten-thousand feet and attempting to be quiet about it.  There, with my fingers and toes number than the combined speeches of Al Gore, my mind wanders to some past event.  Like, "Remember that time you and Lecil nearly froze to death on that deer hunt up in the Sierras' when the mules ran off and ya had to hike the twelve miles back to the trailhead in the snow," I'll ask myself?  "Ah, those were the good old days," I'll mumble incoherently because my moustache is frozen to my lips.
      Other times ideas float by effortlessly.  Like while I'm hiking the three miles back up river to my truck after having slipped on a rock and found myself shooting down Dead Man's Rapids with a death grip on my fly rod and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich hanging precariously out of my mouth while screaming.  "I really should appologize to those children if they're at that campsite up here a bit," I'll tell myself.  "I wonder if they'll have nightmares?"
      Sometimes ideas show up while I'm searching through my eight-thousand-and-twelve pockets for that pesky roll of toilet paper I'm certain I remembered to bring along, but don't discover until, in desperation, I've had to resort to leaves that were humbly too small for the task, snow covered pine boughs that rudely awakened one's senses, or rocks with sharper edges than most of my skinning knives.
      But most of my story ideas seem to arrive while I'm out cleaning the mule's pens and attempting to ignore Zane Grey's habitual complaining about the quality of the last load of bermuda or alfalfa I went into debt to have trucked in.  There, with a manure fork in my hands, topics race through my mind like stock-car racers weaving through a wreck at Daytona.
      And then occassionally I'll get an idea or two following a futile and one-sided argument with my bride, Cathy, and I've locked myself in the bathroom.  There, in the comfort and solitude of the comode I'm able to review my badly beaten ego and stand in front of the mirror while I rationally explain in pantomime and in precise detail all those things I wished I'd have had the presence of mind to say while I was getting my fanny chewed out, but couldn't think of at the time.  "What did you say in there?  I heard that!"
      So when someone asks me if a particular story is reeeeeally true or not, I simply tell them to keep in mind that most of the lies I tell are the truth; sort of.  You prepare yourself for a life of fiction when you hang out with the crew of individuals I find myself surrounded by.
      And God bless 'em, each and every one.

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