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updated: 12/21/2011 11:28 AM

Getting a healthy start on a little holiday dreaming

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I stood on the front lawn decked out like a sanitation worker, garbed in tan and brown.

My magic wand was my trusty 6-weight fly rod and reel. My upper chest region was swathed in a medium-weight, short-waisted jacket, and my legs were protected by chest waders. I had to wear the gear, just for the sake of doing it.

I was ready to move forward and step off into full recuperation mode.

After all, I had to think about the rush of spring planning and doing. I simply had to embrace good thoughts since pal Spence Petros chided me for whining about what small-time owies besieged me instead of what good things might come rolling my way.

I had some heavy-duty surgery Aug. 26 and I can feel those pain gremlins slowly slipping away. I use the term heavy-duty because another friend, A.J. Paul, teased me when I would tell him I had "serious" surgery. He prefers just plain, old, cutting, or surgery.

So, I told myself I would give myself a holiday gift of determination and preparation through a practice regimen of front-yard fly casting.

A little more than a month ago I couldn't imagine false casting the rod, but now it's like spreading margarine on a piece of rye toast: smooth and even.

I worked the fly line for 15 minutes, then sat down on the front porch to grade my performance. I'm good at taking breaks and making excuses.

I brought a couple brochures outside with me and used the rest time to dip into dreamland by examining the wonderful pictures accompanying the text.

The corners of the pages were worn and ragged from the countless episodes of browsing. And a reading pro, a real library devotee, would have easily recognized the drool marks scattered throughout the publication.

The brochures listed cabins and small houses for locations in Montana and the Florida Keys.

My fantasy -- or holiday wish, if you will -- was focused on a summer fishing hangout (Montana), and a winter getaway fly fishing paradise (the Keys).

So I continue to get physically stronger by fly casting and day dreaming.

One of my neighbors drove up to my driveway, rolled his window down, and asked me, "How's fishing?"

I told him I had already limited out and was just working the kinks out of my body.

You see, I had the crud scared out me last August when doctors told me I had a bit of cancer in my left lung. I ran home and took inventory of my fishing gear, trying to determine which friends and acquaintances would be the recipients of my treasures. A.J. calls that the "old cigar box syndrome."

My wife told me not to be so quick in divesting myself of the toys that bring joy to my life. It's a good thing I listened to her that day, because there's still plenty of spark left in me.

So there I was, standing in full fishing regalia, casting my fly line farther on each attempt and thinking about throwing some logs into the pot-belly stove in my fantasy Montana getaway. Real sweet, eh?

And then I fast forwarded to one of my secret spots in the Florida Keys, where two schools of lanky bonefish scooted in to a flat, sandy run, hunting for crab and shrimp.

I see myself standing there, not moving, as these ghosts of the salt set their ambush.

I am a lucky man. Fortunately I am alive and doing much better, and still have my "marbles," or at least enough to relate these inner feelings to you. And I am fortunate to have a lot of dedicated readers who always let me know the score.

Dream along with me, and happy holidays.

• Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM.

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