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The no non-sense neck beard

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POSTED November 4, 2009 2:41 a.m.
Trends work on cycles. The 80s have come and gone, then kinda came and went again; sideburns, mohawks, big hair, dyed hair, skater hair, all of it has trendy worth within a context. One thing that has not really made it back since its heyday in the mid 1800s, is the neck beard.

For no other reason than ‘why not’, I decided to party like its 1849 in the form of a Henry David Thoreau throat-beard.

I thought that after 160 years it was about time this statement is reintroduced.

If Brad Pitt can go neat and trim with his aviator mustache, why can’t I get my Thoreau throat on? Okay, don’t answer that.

Many in our country are crying for simpler days, so what better way to than harken back to the days of Walden, Self-Reliance and a period in our country when, “What people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can,” (Thoreau) and when the thought of many was that, “Man is the artificer [craftsman] of his own happiness,”?

Another, this-dude-is-so-sweet-we-say-all-three-of-his-names, Ralph Waldo Emerson penned, “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” Is there a better way to live than letting the wild air get stuck in your throat beard? I think not. That is why Saturday, after a little 10-mile jog to get the blood flowing, I cooled my legs in the Stanislaus River and tossed a Montana Special at trout for the last time until the river reopens in 2010. It was only because of an amendment to the fishing regulations thatthe season from Goodwin Dam to the 120 bridge in Oakdale was open on Halloween.

Neck beard luck? You be the judge.

Feet in the low-river water, I felt dignified, close to nature and poetic. I absconded modern living to fawn over simplicity; to live deliberately and front only the essential facts of life. I  couldn’t help, while drifting the Special in the current of a new spot I knew had a couple hiding trout, but feel the desire to be not simply good, but be good for something.

I have fished Knights Ferry plenty in the past couple seasons, but due to my neck growth I was able to access its purity with a clearer mind. As if a reward for my ground-breaking trend revitalization, Nate and I saw a half dozen salmon, rank from the warm, salt-less water. They were beautifully hideous. I had heard plenty of noise about how devastated the runs had become, so to see that Nature was hanging on made me happy. Back in Thoreau’s day I’m sure this place was full of salmon and unhindered by dams and fished by families of neck-beard rockin’ pioneers. Now its a place for picnics and history.

We left the water shortly after we saw our finned friends. With the run so close to being gone forever, we didn’t want to be the ones that ruined it for everyone. So we left the water, and headed back to civilization to watch college football. (Not a transcendentalist hobby of course.) As far as the fishing goes, I’m not saying that Nature acknowledged my cap-tip to the wilds of two centuries ago in the form of some nice trout, I’m just saying that the guy with the throat beard caught three times the fish as the guy without.

To quote another poet, one that would never go with the throat beard, “I gotta say, it was a good day.”
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