DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

Why DX is a Moveable Feast

Then rattled the windows like thunder balls
Then roared the DXers' screams and calls
And just as quickly, a collective sigh
For ten kay-cees up, one single cry
"I QSL, you're five and nine!"

One of the Local QRPers came by the other day, this one with a look of determination in his eye and resolve in his stride. He made his way up the hill and sat down beside us. It was clear that he had a question, as all seekers of DX knowledge inevitably do. "You know" this one asked, "I was talking to the Old Timer yesterday and he told me that DXing is a moveable feast, to be enjoyed while one is young and fondly remembered when one is old, but never something that one should let go stale. He said that this was one of the Mysteries of the Ages and that if I didn't understand it, I was not yet one of the Deserving. And when I asked him explain why, he simply said I was not ready to be a true-blue DXer!" What do you think of that?"

Other than thinking the Old Timer had hit the nail right on the head and we didn't think much else. Since this was the bottom of the cycle and the road to understanding can often be rough and pitted with holes, we decided to try. But before we got started, the QRPer began again: "Does it mean that I am too young to be a true-blue DXer? Or that I haven't been on the air long enough? I've had my ticket for years, and while it's true I only became serious about DXing during the peak of the last cycle, does this mean that I haven't paid my dues? How many countries do I have to work and how old to I have to be before I am accepted? Is there a quota of rare ones I have to work before . . ." We held up our hand and stopped him there! It was clear he was spinning his wheels on the same question and we had to get him focused.

"In every endeavor you take on in life and indeed, life itself, there will always be the beginning and end . . . and if you are not at the beginning or the end, you are usually somewhere in between, right?", we began, giving the QRPer a firm gaze. "In the DX club, don't you notice there appear to be these three groups? Those who are brand new, thrilled at making their first 25 or 50 DX QSOs and striving for the seemingly unreachable DXCC certificate? And then there are the very active, working everything than moves . . . exotic modes and obscure bands, counting their way to Honor Roll with their fingers, and maybe a toe or two. They never miss a thing, right?" The QRPer nodded slowly, looking at us with the expectation that he was on the verge of understanding. We weren't so sure, but we had started and we were determined to see it through. "And then there are the senior type members, some old in years, others not but all long in memory and sure in judgement. They say little, but they are the true-blue DXers, the Deserving. But they are still work as much DX as the new comers. Did you notice that?", we asked, hoping to get him to see the self-evident truth that all DXers are more or less the same. "Yes", he replied quickly, "of course I do. But this third group, the true-blue Deserving. That's where I want to be! How did they get there? I suppose they worked their way up the ranks, but how? And when did they know they had made it? When will I know when I am getting close? And what makes these DXers so different?"

Son of a Gun! Just when we thought we had him thinking in the right direction, it was clear he didn't understand. And while we had more patience than the Old Timer, it was not endless. We had to get him turned around so we tried another tactic. "You have to listen carefully, for what we are going to tell you is true but sometimes hard to understand, but you must believe. What makes you think this third group, these old codgers, are much different than any other DXer?" And before he had a chance to reply, we started in on him.

"Do you recall your grandparents, or maybe even your great-grandparents talking about the great songs when they were young, like 'The Roses of Picardy' and 'Keep the Home Fires Burning' and all the great dances like the Charleston and that sort of thing?" The QRPer gave us a peculiar look and nodded slowly. "Yes", he replied, "that was great music and I still listen to it myself. But what's that got to do with DX?" We stopped him right there and continued, "Remember your parents talking about the good old days and the songs like 'White Cliffs of Dover' and 'As Time Goes By' and the great bands like Glenn Miller? Did they ever talk about that?" The QRPer nodded and again asked "Again, I like the music and I reiterate, what does it have to do with DXing and me being one of the Deserving?" We ignored the question and stared at the QRPer for a moment. "Pay attention to what we are saying.", we said in a stern voice and looked him right in the eye. "When you were a bit younger, didn't you listen to songs like 'Tennessee Waltz' and maybe a bit later some of that rock and roll music?" The QRPer replied, "Yes, I listened to all that! I still do. All the time. Everything you mentioned from John McCormack to the modern stuff on the radio today. Music never really changes much . . . just the people who listen to it. And maybe they don't change much, either. But I didn't ask about music and I don't think you know the answer to my original question, anyhow!"

Should you think that this one had us cornered, even for a brief moment, you are possibly not yet a genuine true-blue DXer. "Is that so?" we asked, and when he replied, "Absolutely!", we knew we had him! He tried to draw back from us and we leaned closer so he couldn't escape and asked: "Why is it that you can't understand that a DXer can go through life chasing DX, each enjoying the feast and never losing the thrill and enthusiasm? Yet you can easily see why 'Auld Lang Syne' is the same today as the day it was when it was written? Tell us!!" His mouth was moving but no sounds were coming out. "Tell us!", we ordered again, glaring directly into the QRPer's beady little eyes, "Why is the enjoyment of hearing a good song over and over so much easier to understand than the enjoyment of a 599 report from a remote DX land over and over?" He had no answer, but even better, he had no question!

He was off down the hill, shaking his head back and forth and muttering to himself. Maybe one of these days, when he is more mature and safe in his spot on Honor Roll, he will grasp the Eternal Enigmas . . . but for now he would have to ponder it and with that might come Enlightenment. For every DXer eventually learns that DX never grows old and that it only comes fresh with each golden dawn. Some acknowledge its arrival but most know it is there and hardly think about it at all. But it comes. Always.

73/DX Paul VE1DX

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