A cloud of fine dust billowed up behind my Subie, leaving a hazy trail behind me as I bounced down the dirt road leading to Tom's house. From his neighbor's yard, a longhorn steer threw me a half-interested glance as I pulled up the drive. It was a bright morning in May and I was on my way to build a landing net with the Shasta Trinity Fly Fishers, my local fly fishing club.

I was a little nervous, partly because the club is comprised mostly of retirement-age men (and I'm a 30-something woman), but mainly because I had no experience with woodworking. As I approached the shop, which was chock-full of unfamiliar machines, wood scraps, and sawdust, I was greeted by that quizzical but benign look I often get while rowing a dirt boat down the Lower Sacramento, my home river.

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Photo by J Witherspoon