These words are written on my grandfather's grave, carved on local field stone plucked and scoured by ice and sea. There is a family story that goes with it, and this other meaning will pass from general knowledge when none of us now living is around to explain it. That is one of the reasons I started this blog nearly a decade ago, back in the fall of 2005 when my head and heart were full of ideas and memories that needed a new outlet for expression. It was to leave a record, even in this most ephemeral of electronic media, for others to find and follow.
Since then, my interests have taken new directions and found new outlets. I started writing a nature column for the local paper, and that is where my environmental writing has gone ever since. There is enough material now to compile into book form, a project I hope to pursue. Social media supplanted blogging as an outlet for the short form post with immediate reader feedback. My personal life took new directions as well, and I no longer spend nights up late at night, avoiding unhappiness at home.
I stopped writing here on a regular basis several years ago, but I still blog elsewhere. Instead of a general purpose blog I have three specialized ones.
My interest in 18th century material culture research and living history finds serious expression in the newest of these: "Another Pair Not Fellows; Adventures in Research and Reinterpreting the American Revolution." I am still proud of the historical research I conducted and present here at Walking the Berkshires, especially the series which was recognized with a Cliopatria Award in 2008 and the documentation behind four posts on the march of Burgoyne's Convention Troops through Connecticut which was accepted in research paper form as an addition to the collections of the David Library of the American Revolution.Over time, I will probably archive relevant material from Walking the Berkshires here, possibly after first reformatting them as .pdfs on Scribd. There are a couple that ought to be presented as scholarly research papers, and a seventeen post series with broken links is not really the best way to present that material.
My irreverent sense of humor and love of the scholarly send up produced the fictional Journal of Constant Belcher, a wholly contrived character whose misadventures during the American Revolution make such convincing use of actual documentary evidence that I inadvertently mislead the entire Revolutionary War Reenacting community when I announced its "discovery." I had assumed that entries such as the following made with tongue planted firmly in cheek would have been a dead giveaway - Maj. Bloomfield bid me make a place for his horse in the boat for crossing to Cuckoldstown / Gave it green pippins from his haversack So that it might ease our passage with a copious wind/. Sadly it was all too believable, and there are places in the hobby today where the mere mention of Belcher's name causes eyes to roll and brows to furrow. There is a Facebook Page for Constant Belcher, too, where the social media are alerted to my latest discoveries from his journal.
Finally, there is a blog called Cornflower Blue & Corduroy; Wargaming the German - Herero and Nama Wars of 1904 -1908. This is a new direction for two old interests - a love of painted miniatures and of Namibia. I have a very small circle of people with whom to share this area of historical inquiry and recreational pursuit, but it has involved my learning to decipher and translate German in the old Fraktur font and presenting my findings, sometimes for the first time, in English translation.
As for Walking the Berkshires, it is so well diffused in the electronic media stream that I still get contacted through email by people who have found one of my old posts. I see my role for now as its curator, tending the archives without adding new acquisitions. This blog made many important connections and friendships for me, in particular with the genea-blogging community, many of whom I still find on Facebook. It deserves to be cared for rather than abandoned.
Gone fishing was requested as an epitaph by my grandfather, Robert Howard Barker, after talking about the great uncertainties of death with his young son Robbie. The idea of burial and what happens to the body and spirit is a lot for any person to absorb, particularly a young child. Robbie had been learning about the water table in school, and so resolved this great mystery by announcing that after he was buried, he would go fishing in the water table. My grandfather announced then and there that "Gone Fishing" is what he wanted on his gravestone.
Three decades or so later, I'd like to think he got his wish.