"Happiness is time spent with a friend and looking forward to sharing time with them again."
I have been truly blessed throughout my life with close friends. I receive phone calls or texts almost daily from a number of my high school friends. We are very involved in each other's families. We share the accomplishments and the travails of our lives and those of our children.
Many friendships have been formed through my hunting and fly fishing associations. From fellow fly fishing guides to cherished friendships with many of my clients, I appreciate them all.
This time of year is now twinged with sadness as well as great joy. The joy is the arrival of the waterfowl. The sadness is for the loss of my good friend Tom Harpstreith. From the middle of October to mid February, Tom and I spent almost every day together. It was never an issue that Tom was closer in age to my parents than to me. Our love of the outdoors and the anticipation of upcoming waterfowl seasons honed our friendship. Tom taught me everything I know about hunting Canada geese. One of his many "Tomisms" was "I have to hunt every day because every day is different."
Countless hours are spent preparing blinds and pits. A thousand decoys have to be moved from storage to their respective locations. Furniture and heaters hauled to each spot and the salamanders, toads, snakes, frogs and spiders that have been inhabiting the pits all summer must be relocated or eradicated. Hours of cutting grass and tweaking the camo on the pits and blinds. Those hours turn into days of preparation.
I could not do it without a group of my friends from Utah and Colorado.
Petey Peterson, Dexter, Eric Lobdell, Cass, Garrett Klein, May, Joe, NP Dave Kalinski (Off being Polish)
These friendships were born many years ago on the ski slopes of Park City. They were cemented by a love of waterfowling. Every November the crew makes the eight hour drive to Torrington to help with setup and then again in February to help take down the spreads and store them for the following season. When the guys heard that we had lost the river blind to the flood, they built a new one. It is not easy to build a blind to Tom Harpstreith's standards, but they did it.
The highlight of the trip is having dinners with the Harpstreith family. Tom's wife, Lovie, has continued the tradition of hosting the Utah gang for dinner. Lovie is an amazing chef. She has attended numerous cooking schools in Europe. She learned her craft well! The downside is the dinners always occur the same week as Thanksgiving. If this continues, I may lose my position in the "Chippendale's Western Revue".
I don't think that the arrival of my friends from Utah and the arrival of the waterfowl is a coincidence.
Thank you Eric, Garrett, Dave and Petey.
Thank you Tom. For everything. We miss you, my Friend.