CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As New Year's resolutions go, this one sounds pretty weak, but here goes: I hereby resolve to get back to my roots.The past year has been a strange one. It marked the first time in nearly four decades I didn't go hunting or fishing.Not. Even. Once.Oh, I wanted to go. At least a dozen times I made tentative plans to fish or hunt, either by myself or with someone else. Every time - every single time - those plans fell through.
Weather did me in on several occasions. I'd make a hole in my work schedule, earmark it for a day on a favorite trout stream, and bam! The heavens would open and every creek within driving distance would be too high and muddy to fish.Family obligations wreaked havoc on my plans, too. My son, who is autistic, requires constant care. My wife and I both work, and we juggle our schedules to accommodate our son's needs.Unexpected things happen, though, and when they do our carefully planned schedules get thrown into chaos.So, on days when I had planned to wet a line or tote a shotgun, I found myself taking my son to the doctor or watching him when one of his social service-agency staff called in sick.I also got distracted with learning to make better photographs. I spent countless hours reading Internet tutorials and watching online videos, all with the goal of making the photos I shoot for the newspaper more visually appealing.So with all these factors commanding my time, I eventually gave up. Along about October, I simply stopped trying to schedule time afield.I lost interest in tying flies and building fishing rods, ordinarily two of my favorite stay-at-home pastimes. I even quit reading outdoor magazines and watching outdoor-related TV shows.Now, as the 2012 calendar draws to a close, I've reached what my wife calls "a Popeye moment.""That's all I can stands," Popeye would shout when he'd had all the frustration he could take, "Cuz I can't stands no more!"Starting Jan. 1, I resolve to engage in some sort of outdoor activity - fishing, hunting, hiking, bird watching, nature photography - at least once every two weeks, even if it's only for an hour or two.Starting Jan. 1, I resolve to spend at least a couple of hours each week at my fly-tying bench or in my rod-building workshop.
And starting Jan. 1, I plan to spend a little time each day reconnecting with the pastimes I virtually abandoned in 2012.All the time I was growing up, my parents would tell me to "dance with the girl what brung ya."They knew I had a tendency to become fascinated by the latest bright, shiny object that happened along, and they knew my pursuit of shiny, transient distractions often took me away from tried-and-true practices that helped make me successful.My parents are long gone, but their wisdom remains.Each year brings new possibilities, new promises. In 2013 I'd like to experience a few new things, but at the same time I'd like to return to my roots as an outdoorsman.I might not wear out a pair of boots in the process, but at least I'll get some mud on them.
Have a happy and prosperous New Year, everyone.