Thursday, December 22, 2005

WoodChuck on Fishing

Well I’ve finally got most of the year end work out I brought on vacation of the way. The tree hunt was successful and the Christmas tree is now decorated. So it’s time for the real vacation to begin. And time for the real fun, salt water fly-fishing in Little St. Simons Island creeks and rivers. Love those Redfish and Spotted Sea Trout. Just spending the day out on the creeks, trudging the marshes, catching fish with friends and family has a refreshing effect on your outlook after a long, arduous year. A couple of day’s back we had a wonderful afternoon on Mosquito Creek at what we affectionately call “The Honey Hole”. Five of us must have caught forty or fifty fish in a couple of hours. What’s really surprising is that we didn’t even keep one fish to cook up for dinner or fry for breakfast we were having such a good time catching and releasing them all back to the creek.

To get set in the right mind for our angling this holiday I began reading “Hemingway on Fishing” a few nights back. The book features a selection of excerpts from some of his short stories, novels and journalistic pieces that demonstrate Hemingway’s deep love and understanding of the fisherman’s experience. And a consummate fisherman he was in addition to his writing talent. I myself have never been accused of writing simple prose. I’m generally, the king of the run-on sentence. But Hemingway inspires so I thought I’d add a small bit to the Timberlines on fishing Little St. Simons.

Of course a fisherman can’t go anywhere with out his essential tools and this year I’ve added a few new ones to my kit. Yes, that’s my pocket Moleskine, my Palomino HB and even a KUM sharpener which I rigged to a lanyard along with my other essentials. Yep, I’m now the envy of outdoor artists with that sharpener ever at hand. Slides right into my vest pocket along with pencil and sketchbook. That Palomino won’t go dull when I record my thoughts or capture a quick image when I catch a 5 minute break from the action in the water.

I even got a couple quick sketches in today. The first is of my dad driving the boat out the Hampton River. The wind was up a bit so it was tough sketching while bouncing along the river at 30 mph. Perhaps this should become a new artistic training activity, Extreme Bump Speed Sketching. It can complement Blind Contour Drawing for building your skills. We didn’t catch any fish before lunch, although we did have a Bottlenose Dolphin surface about 5 feet from the boat. I’ll bet he got some lunch at our expense. It was nice just the two of us though, must savor these moments. Don’t get enough opportunities to spend quality time with dad.

The second sketch was drawn while fishing deep in Sancho Panza Creek after our beach picnic lunch back on the island. There’s another literary reference for any Quixote fans out there. “Sanko” as we call it, is just a small creek at this point in the high marsh bounded by saltwort and small clumps of Spartina grass. The fish ride the incoming and outgoing tides following the baitfish, shrimp, mud minnows or whatever the hors d’oeuvres du jour may be. I hoped today’s treat would do the trick, my “Nix Epoxy Fly” with white and green flashing and beaded red eyes.

We were a bit early for the tide turning back out to sea. After an hour of no activity we gave up the ghost on a slow fishing day, crossed the marsh to the Middle Woods Trail and walked the mile or so back to the Hunting lodge through the mixed pine and oak maritime forest. We came across a buck and doe that bounded out of sight into a large clump of Palmettos that provide good cover in these forests. It was a nice walk and a relaxing time with my father. Then his cell phone beeped.

As luck would have it thirty minutes after we left our fishing this afternoon my brother and his father-in-law arrived to the same spot on Sancho and caught nine or ten fish in about 30 minutes time.
Note: For any fishing or Christmas tree fans I’ll be positing some additional photos on my Flickr site in next day or so. Hope your all having a great holiday.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Have a Very Cedar Christmas

Well here we are again on Little St. Simons Island, Georgia for the holidays. A yearly tradition and sojourn for family Berolzheimer. In another day or two the remaining family members will arrive and well set off for our annual Christmas Tree hunt. I call it a hunt as that’s just what it takes to find a suitable holiday tree on Little St. Simons. No plastic Chinese produced tree or perfectly proportioned fir from the Christmas tree lot for us. Always a naturally grown Southern Redcedar, cut fresh from our own property.

Now a cedar, or more properly in this case a juniper, is not your typical Christmas tree. More a bush than a tree in this coastal barrier island environment, the Southern Red Cedar is not the prototype ornament hanger with its scrappy, lightweight branches. A one hour pickup truck ride and hike, bundled up against the cold, looking for something resembling the traditional conical shape, stopping here and there, inspecting possibilities, casting our votes, lobbying amongst one another for which tree will work best for us this year. The most well proportioned trees we find are always too big even for our central high ceiling location. The smaller ones tend to have some natural defect from growing too close together or up against a prickly pear or Myrtle bush, only discovered upon closer inspection. Finally, we choose and cut, always a compromise from the ideal. A picnic lunch follows and the late afternoon and evening are spent propping up the tree, hanging lights and ornaments even wiring it to the wall so the excessive ornament weight doesn’t tumble the tree to the floor. The result though not the mainstream “perfect tree” is our own form of perfection.

Often we consider whether we might simply take a half acre or so to plant and properly manage a number of trees including more suitable Christmas tree species so we can have better trees in future years. Of course the cedar tradition is in our blood as a family and here at Little St. Simons Island. Originally the property was purchased by the Eagle Pencil Company (LSSI Timeline see 1908) to harvest the taller commercial size Southern Redcedars (Juniperus Virgniana subspec Silicicola)for pencil wood supply back in the days when it’s cousin the Eastern Redcedar, Juniperus Virginiana, was the preferred species by pencil manufacturers. However growing conditions for commercial size Cedars were not ideal and the economics of harvesting on and transporting from an island proved. Instead the property has become a family retreat and now can also be your private Island hideaway.

While we have not chosen to become Christmas tree farmers over 21,000 other owners have nationwide. A little research at the National Christmas Tree Association website yields some of the following interesting facts:

- There are from 500,000 acres of commercial Christmas tree farms in the United States which sell from 25-30 million trees each year.
- The most common species are balsam fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine, and white pine.
- Every acre of Christmas Trees grown produces the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people.
- Beyond being a renewable resource increasing number of real Christmas trees are recycled each year. Find a recycling program here.
- The average artificial Christmas tree of which China produces 80%, are used for 6-9 years before ending up in a landfill, though I suppose there may be some recycling opportunities growing for these imitators.
- A Real Tree is five time more environmentally compatible than a plastic tree, according to this study by Swedish researchers.

So good luck with your Christmas Tree hunt this year if it’s still to come. Choose wisely and if you can try a cedar or at least a few Palominos, Forest Choice of Golden Bears under the tree if the real thing is not an option. Most importantly enjoy a wonderful and joyous holiday season

Friday, December 09, 2005

SwarmSketch: Collective sketching of the collective consciousness

It's not pencil, but an interesting experience in group collaboration or tug of war depending upon your perspective.

So if you haven't got the patience today to work on your own pencil drawing here's a change to contribute just one line to the daily Swarmsketch drawing along with hundreds of others. Then you vote on the darkness of a number of lines to help influence the direction the drawing is taking.

There's a new drawing with a different theme every day. You come back the next day and see the final result. I helped draw the right shoe of this wheel chair bound rocker in the drawing titled "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame". You may not like the end result, kind of a tug of war

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Who's got that Palomino?

It's been fun to learn about the growing list of Palomino fans. What a diverse and interesting group of people we are. Clearly we all have a common interest in pencils and in my view PRevo has done a wonderful thing bringing us together. But it's clear there are many more links than an interest in pencils and the outlet to wax philosophic about our chosen tools of choice, how we use them and what might be done to improve them.

Appreciation of a finely crafted product is clearly a common denominator. Whether it's a Palomino, a Moleskine sketchbook, a Ticonderoga, a Faber-Castell Grip 2001, or whatever. Though it's clearly deeper than a simple appreciation of quality. An emotional connection gained from use of these items and how we feel about ourselves when we're engaged in that activity.

Certainly there is the sense of community. But there are thousands of on line communities and I would assume that many who have joined the Pencil Revolution are active in other communities as well. As a group I've found beyond pencils we do have other common interests such as bird watching and photography, reading, drawing, etc.

For me creativity is the strongest and most common link. Whether it's writing a 50,000 word novel in a month in pencil, exploring and designing unique symbology, or simply keeping our own blogs about a broad and diverse group of subjects. In fact it's the link as a creative outlet that inspired me to get going with Timberlines and begin to offer Palomino pencils on eBay where perhaps I have helped a few others with the tools to. Since then I've even taken up notetaking, writing and drawing in a Moleskine myself when I haven't drawn in a number of years. And I'm not the only one.

Finally, a very special congratulations to Cyberlizard. I see you are a winner in 2005 National Novel Writing Month contest and we worship you for writing the whole thing in pencils and using Palomino pencils at that. For the sake of our eBay store we're kind of hoping you'll just keep on going month after month. Can't wait to learn more about your novel.

Pencil World Promotional Note: We've now added aquarelle pencils to our Palomino range and have great offer going on for Christmas pencil stocking stuffer bonus giveaways with a purchase of any of our Palomino pencils.