Dandy and Flirt

Dandy & Flirt

There is a big trout named Dandy living just above the old Cotter bridge. A string of islands running north to south is covered and uncovered by the dramatic fluctuations of water flow. Dandy doesn’t care, this is her home, and she has all she needs, right were she is.

Dandy has an admirer, or stalker of sorts. He’s an old man that goes by the name ‘Flirt’. Flirt has been fly fishing for Dandy nearly a decade. He often sees her laid up near the bank, in the shallow water of the sun. More often he spots her wide back and dorsal fin in the seams of the broken water. Other times, she’s chasing bait fish, sipping bugs on top of the water, or cruising giant figure eight patters throughout the island waterways.

Flirt has an old green John boat, with a 9.9 Evinrude outboard motor pushing it slowly upstream. Up river and under the old bridge, he stops at the bottom of the string of islands where he fishes the big eddie and slack water. The islands tail off and the water becomes deep and stained a dark green. He throws out an anchor and the john boat floats down river a bit until it stops.

He picks up his fly rod, an old, beat up Loomis he inherited from a friend that passed away years ago, and threads a night crawler down, around, and up the shaft of the gold hook. He leaves a bit of the worm dangling from the point of his hook, as to mimic the worm was free and drops the worm in the cold, clear water letting out line slowly by pulling his fly line straight out. The worm drops towards the bottom of the deep hole and continues moving down stream about twenty-five yards until it rests on the gravel bottom.

He picks up a Walmart plastic bag, filled with a bit of ice and pulls out a cold Coors and cracks it open. Leaning back in his ‘captains chair’ he takes a long pull from his beer. Nothing much to look at really, just an old beat up, worn, cushioned chair in the rear, just in front of the motor, and an old man sipping beer, fishing. Other boats move by, some starring a bit at his rig and unconventional fly fishing ways. Mostly nice, expensive boats and skiffs, with big motors or long oars manned by long-time guides and new ones alike. Some slow down, as to respect and not make wake for the old man fishing. Others blow by at high speed, skimming the river’s surface in inches of water with their jet motors roaring and interrupting nature’s way.

He finishes his first beer, seemingly without a care in the world and reels in his fly line. He unthreads his waterlogged worm and drops it in the water thinking, ‘I bet he gets ate before he makes the bridge.” He threads a new, lively night crawler on his hook, sets it gently in the water and lets out line watching it sink downstream about 20 yards in front of the boat. He cracks another Coors and lays back in his chair.

He continues this ritual, like he has nearly every day for the past 10 years. 4 Coors, 4 worms, 4 different spots, fishing a bit closer to the boat with each drop of the worm in the deep hole. He catches a few fish here and there until the sun starts to set and then he floats down stream, under the bridge and starts his motor to load the boat. Most days, he gets off the water around dark, drives home, just a few miles away and rarely takes the time to unhook the trailer.

One Sunday afternoon in a light mist, with fog coming off the water, Flirt, on his third worm and third Coors dozed off in his captains chair. He woke to his Loomis fly rod banging the aluminum welds of his john boat and just like that, his fly rod took off dropped in the cold river and sank to the bottom. He knew, for sure it was Dandy and yearned to hold her just one time. Not today, Flirt. Not today.

“Not today, Flirt. Not today.

Charles Kochel can be found fly fishing the Ozark mountains of Arkansas and Missouri. He enjoys the outdoors, writing, and the culinary backyard arts of smoking.

He’s getting older every day, like the rest of us and time seems to be more important than it once was.

If you want to find him, look in towards the chalk streams for a man wading knee deep, waving cane.

Respect and honor our streams. Water and fish were created by God before man and woman.


Noah’s Ark and the middle road.

painting by Cheryl Allen

Individual Liberty

“Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.” – John Adams, 1765

Liberty is the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views. People choosing to walk the middle road hope to be liberated from the heat of angers and aggression of our nation. We can’t make sense of the polarized screamer’s dramatic behavior.

“I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.’ To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition.” – Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, 1791

The Star Children or old souls have not voiced their stance. At least not outside their limited, shrinking circles. The country is already run by the polarized screamers and we see now, in front of us, how this works out. We are much more community minded and holistic. I can think of zero like minded that would ever run for office. That’d mean you deal with the polarized screamers. “No thanks.” We’d much rather dance in our joy with one another than to fight others – a battle no one will win.

I think ‘mercy’ has a lot to do with our silence. We’ve been taught for lifetimes to forgive and keep dancing, and forgive again, and stay out of the fray. We forgive simply, but for many it’s more a matter of trust and shrinking our circles to give more to those we trust and matter most us.

It’s evident the past few days and weeks the ‘star children’ are coming together, like a gale force wind. But the question remains, within the wise conversations, that it has become a matter of trust and the decision of the ‘good herd’ is either shrinking one’s circles or to enter the war with no end.

For me and my tribe, we strive to do no harm.

If ‘Do No Harm’ is our mantra, so why fight a war with others refusing to journey to the middle road? The polar ends are separating and polarizing people. If we choose to build our own walls of compassion and love – a remarkable concept will unfold. Whether literally or ‘figuratively’ removing the ‘polarized’ ‘screamers’ from our circle and compartmentalizing them to love and/or compete with one another — what’s left in the middle road is compassion and love. This is our treasure – compassion and love – this is what we will protect from the thieves of joy.

In a time that seems only to be worsening, now may be the time to withdraw from society and protect our treasures. I love my tribe too much and daily, I’m seemingly more repulsed by the polarized screamers.

I know not whether to step up or step out. It may be time to gather our treasures and watch the dramas from the inside out. We are on a different journey. The macro thinking of the wise are not looking solely at macro government changes, but a change for the Universe for good. Until then, so far we have built an ark and invited our people inside.

It’s like dharma and karma have united creating peace in the midst of chaos.

It certainly seems better to stabilize within your circle and keep your friend few than to try and associate in the chaos. Gather your treasures and don’t let them be stolen by the emotions of the people.

My sister told me many years ago to shrink my circles because when my circles are too big, I give little to few. When I shrink them I give abundance. ~Noah’s Ark~

There will be a time to widen the circle again, and when we draw it back in our hopes are we have gained enough fuel for our soul to help promote compassion and love — do no harm is the minimum. But now certainly does not seem to be the time. Pluralism and acceptance are at an all time low. We do not have the stamina to fight a war we cannot win.

The time is to think Global and act very local in a small sphere of Noah’s Ark. The goal is to keep the pure seed for seeding the future. Follow your heart and the heart will guide us through.

Lord, have mercy.

It’s difficult to accept and understand the inept character and integrity of a person purposely harming another. It’s understandable, but not acceptable for people not knowing they are harming another, doing so anyway, yet fighting for their right to do so.

Losing trust in society and retreating to the shrunken circles many of us have created in the past months is quite evident to the middle road street people.

O’er, I know not, but God said not knowing is dharma; back in Revelation.


If you think you know, you don’t know. Not knowing or nothingness is also the 14th Dalai Lama’s creed. Believers of a compassionate higher power deem the same — ‘do good’, ‘repent or turn away’, compassion, love, selflessness. I’d love to invite them all to a bbq.

Crush a coconut every year and let it all out.

Times are overwhelming. The screamers. The silent. Both radical — extreme polars knowing, without doubt ‘I am right, you are wrong.’

Battling | War — for what? To change the other person?

What an opportunity to release a deep rooted issue from one’s soul by acting out with passion directly against the very thing you hate, both standing together so far away from the middle you can just barely make out what they care about. We are in the midst of a civil war for integrity and character. This blows my mind. Nobody wins.

But what about the majority amongst the screamers living in the middle. A diverse community of like minded people are sitting in limbo not trusting anything, nor anyone except the middle. It’s like a cult of the good people, some we’ve never met. All joining together as a force for sanity within an epic storm of chaos.

So, what do we do, as the middle road street people to attract a simple mantra of ‘Do No Harm?” You’d figure ‘center of influence’ would suffice to solving the political issues we face today, but no ‘middle roader’ in their sound mind would run for political office, and this has been a fact for decades.


I don’t know the answer. I do not have a solution. My guess is that we, as the middle majority (God willing) will have to ask ourself and at least two other people (look in the mirror, ask the next 2 people you’d invite to a BBQ) ‘what matters most to you?’ And prioritize, as a nation what matters most and do this first. The leaders must organize these priorities of the majority and place them on a timeline aligned to what matters most to the majority.

A simple, doable, and measurable roadmap needs to be articulated to the people, (not just the majority – everyone) with transparency and a process to measure progress or lack thereof. It should not be this difficult to find a candidate you’d want to invite over for a BBQ. That’s why Clinton, Busch, and Obama were cool. Play the sax, shoot some hoop, have a cold one, and score some chics. Odds are they all three play spades, shoot dice, and throw a mean disc.

Sometimes I wonder if Jesus,, Mohammad, Jerry Garcia, Bob Marley, Anthony Bourdain, and  Steve Jobs are hanging out – swinging their legs over a dark rain-cloud, screaming and laughing, with lightening bolts of karma, and Cold Coors, just pickin’ and grinnin’ casting stones towards Earth, like a simple game of corn-hole.

I learned a good lesson listening to The 14th Dalai Lama  ~’Do no harm’ & Tolerance’. This is what I want to exemplify. |Do no harm.| I just hope that the middle is the majority. #GodSpeed, Charles.


charles-kochel-imageCharles Kochel, at home in the Ozarks or wearing a mask when I must be out.

I’m a flatlander living in the hills and have a $37 smoker. My grill was adopted from the side of the road many years ago. She’s seen a lot, as has my fly rod.

I help make shine, cleavers, and Dave Grisman folded in a ping-pong match against me in Missouri. He asked me to play a tune for him on mandolin. I barely knew one ~ ‘ `Arkansas Traveler.