View Full Version : The Tale Of The Little Snow Fly

07-26-2010, 04:09 PM
The Tale Of The Little Snow Fly

The Winter had been bitterly cold and dreary. Then again, what more can be said of Colorado’s San Luis Valley; the cold spot of the nation most of the time. With the Sangre De Christo Mountains to the East, the Methodist Mountains to the North, and the San Juan Mountains to the West, arctic air would sweep down into the valley with an unrestrained vengeance. Survival experts will simply tell you that an exposed body would be hypothermic and dead within minutes as the air sucks the water and life out of every living thing. There was something more then just arctic air that had sucked the life out of me on this Christmas day. Seven years before, I was married on this magical day. Now the magic had turned to a bitter divorce. On this Christmas day, I went hunting, more out of tradition then desire.
The surrounding beauty went unnoticed as I bagged my limit of ducks, geese, and rabbits with the accuracy and emotion of a cold calculated assassin. Warm, homecoming greetings after a chilly Christmas morning hunt were only replaced by the dim stillness of a country kitchen. A stern womanly command to take off my stinking camo, and hunting boots would have at least been welcomed. For any other guy, they would find the absence of such a scorning as a blessing. On previous Christmas days, the cast iron antique wood stove in the corner would be stoked with sweet smelling pine, bringing a toasty warmth and comforting fragrances of turkey, dressing, gravies, and holiday goodies. The other more modern stove in the opposite corner of the kitchen would be equally as busy, as hurried chatter
is exchanged from all. With a total lack of motivation, I lay the game on the wooden counter, grab a butcher knife, freezer paper, garbage bag, and go about the process of skinning a pile of ducks, geese, and rabbits. The kitchen sink runs with cold water as I rinse, wrap, and mark the contents, then place in the freezer. Myrr, my Blue Point Siamese cat rubs up against my leg trying to get some loving attention. “What the hell do you want cat, “ I mutter in my low Grinchy growl ? Myrr just continues to rub my leg with a pleading look. I yank off a Mallard feather and throw it at the cat, “Here, now go play !!!”
Myrr stares for one moment, picks up the feather in his mouth, and happily prances off to another room.
I continue my job of skinning the game, “ kill da wabbitt..........bwast dat dissssssssssppppppicable duck”, I mutter more out of sick sarcasm then a perverse sense of humor. “ Well if y’all weren’t dead before, you are now. Just Great !!! I’m talking to a pile of dead ducks, geese, and rabbits with drool running down the sides of my mouth. Good thing no one is around to see that I’ve finally lost it”.
I carefully wrap the last piece, a small Cinnamon Teal in freezer wrap, mark Teal and the date, and place it in the freezer. After washing the remaining game residue from my hands I slowly meander down to the family room. A silent stillness fills the darkness, with only the ticking of the Grandfather clock in the corner reminding me of so much wasted time. The sweet smell of a Christmas tree with it’s twinkling lights, stockings hung by the cold dormant fireplace that begs for a warm crackling fire, and giggling children happily playing with their new toys are only an empty distant memory. I go over to my mahogany circle bar with it’s various crystal decanters and pour me a Scotch (straight up) in one of the delicate crystal glasses; hoping to temporarily numb the bitter cold poison that relentlessly continues to suck the warm Christmas spirit from my broken heart. Extravagant lights that could be seen from the highway of the custom country tri-leval home and the towering pines on it’s front lawn were vacant.
I used to welcome the peaceful solitude of this country home. A custom country home on 15 acres of land with mountains in every direction was a welcome dream come true after living in the uncivilized craziness of front-range Denver, Colorado. No matter which direction you drove, you could choose from the best of fly fishing, big game archery hunting, skiing, or any other dream come true for an avid outdoorsman. A welcome escape from my ongoing music studies. The road south of my house lead to the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, and the best Goose & Duck hunting you could find anywhere. I took another long draw from my glass of Scottish nectar. A bottle of Puilly Fuisse stored with the rest of the liquor on the bar shelf pleaded to be opened; to compliment a warm Christmas dinner, only to be ignored. The Westminster chimes coming from the Grandfather clock startled me from my quiet daydreaming. The peaceful, quiet solitude of this lovely home had now become a dim, silent, and unwanted grave. Deep in my wounded heart, I sadly knew that life must go on, and I could no longer remain in this beautiful house. I turned and walked up the stairs to the master bedroom for some different scenery with my glass of half sipped Scotch still in hand. Plopping down in the soft chase lounge and grabbing the TV remote I proceeded to surf through the channels. “The Grinch That Stole Christmas”, even though one of my long time favorites.........No Way !!!! First, I would not proceed to steal Christmas presents, ornaments, “roast beast”, and the last can of “Who Hash” from human kind, dressed in a cheesy Santa suit, all the while lieing to a little child that I was taking her Christmas tree to be repaired in my shop. Everyone else has the right to celebrate as they wish; I just have nothing to celebrate. In fact, I am in no mood to see any corn ball Christmas movie. With such a modern convenience as satellite TV, there has to be something worth watching. Ahhh yes ! OLN & some fly fishing , there ya go !!!!! A music stand by the chase lounge with my ebony Buffet Clarinet laying on the chair had gone untouched since the start of holiday vacation.. Rose Etudes !!! So lovingly called by clarinet students “an exercise in futility”. Since the divorce, I had buried myself in my music classes and studies to take my mind off this toxic divorce; all in total futility. The Bible lay on top of the night stand by the mirrored waterbed.. I walked over and turned unthinkingly to a marked page. The book of Ecclesiastes. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...........a time to weep and a time to laugh.............a time to mourn and a time to dance..............a time to search and a time to give up............a time to tear and a time to mend.........a time to love and a time to hate”.
Riiiiiiiight !!! Didn’t the writer of this book also say that life is “Meaningless ! Meaningless !........Utterly Meaningless ! Scholarly logic was trying to tell me to read further and get the full meaning of the passage, but how can you see through piles of hurt and anger that bifocals can’t even correct ?
I eased over to my fly tying desk and clamped a # 18 dry fly hook into the vise. “What will I tie today”, I asked myself with all the enthusiasm of a worm dunker in a fly fisherman’s only pub. With much (don’t rack your brain, you’re on vacation John) careful thought I take another long sip of Scotch, and load a Danish Freehand Pipe with Honey Rum Cavendish. As I light the fragrant tobacco and take a few puffs, I decide to tie a Pale Morning Dun. Damn it !!! Why can’t I get these wings right ??? Earlier that fall, I production tied Renegades (over and over and over in ad nauseum) for a well known fly fisherman and fly fishing outlet. I yanked the unfinished product from the vise and threw it on the shag carpet in total disgust. Proportion ! Proportion !! Proportion !!! There has to be perfect proportion. The fly tying that had once started out as an enjoyable boyhood hobby had now become unenjoyably anal, so with my music, so with life. No one can be perfect I told myself. Then why does everyone expect perfection ? Myrrh pranced into the bedroom and unwelcomely on to my lap. “Don’t even think about going after that hook on the carpet”, I sternly warned. Oh, what terrible memories. A few months before, my obnoxious Siamese got into a bunch of midge hooks, ending up in his hide. The veterinary bill was all the more painful as the doctor was left to extract every hook from Myrrh's hide. My now ex-wife pleaded and begged for a Blue Point Siamese ($250 worth of costly chaos). The cat hated her, and adored me. Amazing how such animals could be a great judge of character, or was it that Myrrh knew good and well that I was an obsessed fly fisherman and would be spoiled with an occasional fresh trout. Well, no woman to get mad at me getting a small hook in the shag carpet. I’ll take a magnet later to search for the now invisible hook (thank God it wasn’t a size 32 like the ones that stuck in Myrrh's hide). Myrrh hopped down off my lap and leaped onto the chase lounge, now snobbily licking his fur and staring at me with a puzzled expression (then again, cats have the same stupid expression all the time......don’t they ?). I got up and opened the door that lead out to the redwood deck. The vast 15 acres in the back property lay lifeless. No chickens in the coop that once gave up fresh eggs and even some hackle for my tying. Goat Goat. An obnoxious nanny goat that would only come up to my little 3 year old girl Jennifer, but nastily head butt you in the behind if you turned your head. That stupid goat loved Jennifer, and Jennifer adored her pet goat. As I stare over to the stables, I hear Jennifer’s voice softly say, “Don’t cry Daddy”, as she tightly clung to me before boarding the plane. How can I cry anymore ??? The bitter hurt of divorce has sucked me dry . I once dreamed of my three little boys and little girl going out to the stables to find a new born colt. “This is your Christmas present. Take good care of him”. I could have only wished, but as my Grandpa once said, “if wishes were dreams, beggars would ride horses”. The harsh reality of the world had wiped out what once were dreams; even ideals that I was raised on. Marriage was to be till death do us part, having been spoken before God. Meaningless !!! A total exercise in futility !!!!! Why does reality hurt so much ?
Walking back inside the master bedroom, it’s cold empty fire place only further reminded me of the world’s bitterness.
I walked over to the corner by the fly tying table grabbing my fly rod, vest, and a box of flies without much thought. It was afternoon, and unseasonably warm for some reason (upper 50’s). I took an empty pipe and some Mc Barrens Symphony (tobacco) from the table and proceeded downstairs to the kitchen to rob a couple of German Beers from the Refrigerator, and fix a fast sandwich. Walking outside, I once again noticed the sunshine and warm temperature, now hopping into my Chevy 4x4 Pickup (The Blue Beast). As I drove into town, the streets were deserted and lifeless. Driving past the dark brown Brick church where my father had once been minister was just as empty and cold as my heart. Christmas Eve service the night before no longer held my interest or desire to attend. My Father now a minister in West Texas, as well as my mother were celebrating with my two brothers and sister. I chose to stay behind instead of travel to (boring drive) West Texas to join in a family celebration. I certainly did not feel like hearing my father and mother preaching (even if he is a preacher) to me the I told you so’s; you should have never married her, as well as the sibling bickering. It seemed like I had been abandoned by family and friends anyway (or was it mutual divorce). The Downtown ornaments on the streetlights looked only ugly to me as I worked my way out of town, and closer toward the Rio Grande River. A smokehouse giving off it's sweet aroma of smoked meats and cheeses only irritated me all the more. My oldest son used to love teething on the special beef jerky. We would all buy several sticks as the whole family enjoyably munched the spicy mountain treat on our scenic family road & fishing trips. Not today, it’s closed. Another town past like a time warp. Past an outfitter, taxidermist, and father of one of my fellow music major friends. Ernst even had a pet cougar that would follow him like a playful, tame kitten while hiking in the mountain wilderness. He even had a picture in his advertisements. What an ideal life. Ideal ? Maybe there are still ideals for some, if only for me. Maybe, someday. Another town with it’s hospital. What terrible memories of being carried down off Wolf Creek Mountain after dislocating a shoulder and elbow while skiing. In total shock, it is still hard to fathom such pain. Now, even mental pain robbed me of the beauty of this scenic drive. In no time, the Rio Grande was following along side the highway as the music of Journey blared from the speakers, “Highway run, in the midnight sun. Wheels go round and round in my mind.”
Suddenly and by reflex I came to a stop along the side of the road where there was open water on the river. Taking the fly rod, fanny pack, and box of flies from behind my seat I stepped out of the Blue Beast and walked over to a large rock by the bank to sit down. For a long moment I stared at the flowing water, searching, but for what on this Christmas afternoon. I pulled a now not so cold beer from my fanny pack, opening, and slowly drinking while still gazing at the water. Was this just another exercise in futility ? I continued to gaze, and my eyes fell upon the icy snow along the bank. A tiny little black speck emerged from the still icy snow, then another, and another. Some were washed into the
chilly flowing water. Soon a dimple appeared on the once dead surface, followed by many more.
Snow Flies, by God, these are Snow Flies (what we called these tiny midges in this part of the Rocky Mountain West). The trout were sipping these little gourmet morsels in like excited children attacking their Christmas stocking candy. In utter desperation I looked through my fly box to find a midge pattern that would match this little Snow Fly. A single tiny Griffiths Gnat would have to do. Luckily I found a spool of 7X tippet in my vest from an earlier trip to South Platte's Cheeseman Canyon. How nice, so where did I put the blasted box of midges ? Oh well !!! With still shaky hands I tied the spider web like tippet to the fly line and then the Griffiths Gnat to the tippet. A careful cast above the surface dimples & soft landing of the midge, now mend the line, produced nothing. Another careful cast and mend, drift, drift, then life at the end of my line as my fly rod doubled over in strain. A few beautiful jumps and quickly I brought the trout to hand. Two small little voices in my head excitedly squealed “Rainbow Fishy Daddy !!! Aren’t Rainbows God’s promise ?” My two little boys would always call them Rainbow Fishys and look on with delight. Yes, Rainbows are God’s promise. I looked upon this Rainbow with the same child like delight, then released it back to it's home. I caught a few more Rainbows and a small colorful Brown before I lost the one and only Griffiths Gnat in my box. Walking back over to the rock to sit down, I loaded my pipe with the sweet Symphony tobacco. Another small voice spoke to me. Like the little Snow Fly that emerged from the cold snow into a bitter world and sacrificed itself to bring you these Rainbows (a true gift), a tiny baby, like the snow fly, also emerged into the world long ago on a Christmas day. So tiny and seemingly insignificant amongst the cold bitterness of humanity, He showed us the beauty of life eternal, only to later sacrifice himself for all. He once again emerged from a cold bitter tomb (death) to become a gift to us all; for us to accept or deny. The river of life continues to flow through all seasons no matter what obstacle is in it's path. The sun shines on the good and the bad. The clouds rain on the good and the bad. Life goes on. A small doe made its way slowly to the opposite bank of the river to nibble on the grasses and drink of the river’s water. I returned to my pickup and started my trip toward home. This time I saw the beauty along the way that had been blinded by hurt and anger. Upon returning home and opening the door, I was warmly greeted by my cat Myrrh, as he leaped into my arms; sniffing my hands. “No Myrrh, no trout. I returned them to the water, but I will fix you and me a special Christmas feast.” I went to the bar in the family room and took the bottle of Puilly Fuisse to put in the Refrigerator to chill and a bottle of Cognac for the duck. After washing my hands, I greased a pan with butter, sliced apples, and some carrots, then sprinkled currents over the combination. I removed the small Teal from the freezer & wrap and placed in the pan with some corn bread stuffing. Mixing apple cider, pumpkin pie spices & cognac, I poured the mixture over the duck. The antique wood stove was stoked with sweet pine and lit, bringing a toasty warmth and life to the kitchen. Now to place the duck in the oven to bake. A wonderful fragrance filled the house with much needed holiday spirit.
Now just one more thing was left to be done. I picked up the phone and dialed, "Merry Christmas Mom, Merry Christmas Dad" !!!


The Sno- Fly Swap began with a small box of midges given as a random gift each following Christmas.
Sno-fly finished it's fourth year with the 15th box of midges given to "Casting For Recovery". Just a box of small Snow Flies given by a bunch of great smallstreams fly fishermen that now know the special meaning of the little Snow Fly filled with life, healing, and hope, and open their eyes each day to life's beauty that only small streams can provide.

07-26-2010, 04:52 PM
This was the winning story 4 years ago in the smallstreams.com creative writing competition. The grand prize was a Mike Shay custom Split Bamboo Fly Rod (7' 4 weight).
I finally received this rod. I still have to add a Reel Seat, add and wrap guides, and dip the rod before it is ready to land its' first trout. The rod reflects beautiful craftmanship (thankyou Mike) and I can't wait to cast to the first rising trout. Many things has changed in these past 4 years. For one, the old smallstreams was lost along with many great stories that cannot be resurrected with the new smallstreams .com that was created. The Sno-Fly Swap has grown, with this past year having two list full of great tyers (some still had to be turned back). The release this last September of Rick Takahashi's new book, "Modern Midges" included 11 of my midge patterns as well as those of Roy Christie's, and many other tyers from smallstreams.com
A thankyou letter from "Casting For Recovery" addressed to smallstreams.com also relayed the appreciation from all the women for the box of donated midges and extra flies.
My wish and hope for the new smallstreams.com is that the many great stories as well as many tight lines and big fish will live on. Adam asked me if I still had a copy of this story, that I would repost it. I do so with a big thanks to all of you. God Bless you and Tight Lines.
Each and every one of you on smallstreams.com I count as a special friend !!!!!!!!!
John M. Larson (aka Alpinefly) :cool:

07-26-2010, 09:49 PM
John, you are a little early, I wanted to make your story front page but you know, this is cool too.

Nicely done and congratulations.

07-26-2010, 11:53 PM
Oops , sorry there Adam (I set the hook too early) :oops: . I do hope that many of the great stories from the previous site can be retrieved; that the authors of these stories saved copies and are willing to repost and share. The true spirit of smallstreams is one of great writing, superb fly tying and cutting edge information on fly fishing that is freely shared, plus top notch tips on rod building, and much more. There is a comraderie on this site that cannot be matched on any other fly fishing web site. This is what has made and will always make smallstreams.com a special place for everyone for many years to come. I for one am very appreciative that smallstreams was revived and is in even better health. We can all thank Gus, as well as you Adam, and the many loyal members that have stuck with smallstreams.com !!! You are the ones that deserve the congratulations and well done !!! :clap:

07-27-2010, 10:02 AM
I can wave my little wand... :) Front page... give me a bit. :)

08-01-2010, 11:17 AM
I'm a sucker for sad stories, the loneliness of silence on a very special day, with only past memories for company, would sadden the hardest of Hearts! I think we all need a special snow fly at times, to lift our spirits and give us hope for the future.

Loved the story; and felt the pain of loneliness!

This should be published (if it isn't already) for all to read!

Thank you for sharing it.


erics beetle
09-16-2010, 03:30 AM
A beautiful story delightfully written,


12-05-2014, 05:52 PM
The annual Sno-Fly Midge Swap still continues its' tradition (even through many hard times. A special site on Facebook, Sno-Fly Worldwide Showcase Of Midges has grown to a large membership of over 2000 Fly Fishers and Tyers from all over the world. This site and group has become a place, and forum for education in tying and fishing Midges (Chironomids and Diptera of all stages). Hard and sad times do continue, but despite, we can still find blessings coming from even the smallest and seemingly insignificant (a tiny little Snowfly in a drift of Snow along the stream on a warm Winter day; or a tiny babe born on a cold bitter Winter day, laying in the manger who was the Son Of God). It motivates us to give and share with others our talents and gifts, knowing that even in the hardest and saddest of times in life, we still are blessed and have so much to be thankful for. I hope all of you have a joyous Holiday season, Tight Lines, and Big Fish.

12-05-2014, 06:10 PM
Thanks for the post. Just sent a "join" request on facebook.
Mike B