Sometimes fly recipes read like poems. I was reminded of this when listening to some of the coverage that The Feather Thief is getting lately. I don’t tie flies, and I should find a modern recipe that is short and pretty, but instead I refer you to a book I mentioned in July, that oldest book I’ve ever touched. Here is the translation of some mid-fifteenth-century recipes, a found poem of sorts.
How one should bind hook[s] for thewhole year and according to each monthIn the first May thus take a dark feather and blacklight brown under that so it gives a good shine underneath.And what you may have of black feather, thatyou should lay on top and golden and black silk under thatand a red hook with red feather and gold and red [silk]under it. Therefore you have quite enough for first May.Should the water be turbid or swollen, then make your hookor the feather so much larger.In June [“second May”] take a light brown feather andblack and red [silk] under that and take a white feather andgold and black [silk] under that and take a reddish brown featherand white and red [silk] under that and for a blackhook tied with it and a red hook also alwayson the line as I have written before and make thatwell tied and large and adjust yourself according tothe water [conditions] as I have written before.In the first August you should bind a red tuft ofred feathers with red and with brown [silk] and a goldenbreast under that. After that you should bind dark grayfeather and bind silver and red silk under that andtake white partridge feather and bind white and a redsilk under that. Take a red stingel feather and bindred and yellow [silk] under that and for always a blackhook and a red [one] on the line and adjust yourself alwaysaccording to the water [conditions].In September [“second August”] thus take ash-colored featherand bind under that gray and light blue [silk] and takeyellow feather and bind red and yellow [silk] under thatwith a golden breast and takewryneck feather and bind gray and white [silk] under thatand take the white [feathers] of the woodpecker which he has beneaththe crop and mix them among another feather that islight gray and bind red and white [silk] under that andbind the two hooks as before and adjust yourselfaccording to the water.In October [“first autumn”] thus take pale mousey brown featherwith white and with red [silk] and a golden breastunder that and take a gray feather from aheron and take gold and gray [silk] under that andtake dark glass-colored [feather] and bind red and whiteunder that and a yellow hook as I have previouslywritten and work hard so that the smaller the wateris, so the smaller you should tie and blackand red [hooks on the line] as before.In November [“other autumn”] you should bind really small and shouldlay down a light gray feather and light blue and white [silk]under that and take green woodpecker feathers and wind greenand yellow [silk] under that and take light ash-colored feather andwind gold and white [silk] under that. What you take thus of pale feathers,that is all good, and take red and white [silk] as before.So you have the entire art/craft [chunst] of the tying and what youwould make as a breast for every month and onall hooks, which you should do in the color as this is tied.
I read this, and heard the echoes of long ago church services, the cadences, the long swell of "ands" and "thats."ReplyDelete
My favorite line:ReplyDelete
Should the water be turbid or swollen, then make your hook
or the feather so much larger.
I became a little giddy (and giggly) while reading this. I think I wouldn't have had the patience for fishing in the 15th century.ReplyDelete
I love this. I felt my Dad was reading it with me - poetry he would have been able to relate to.ReplyDelete