Category: Eco-Spirituality

Grand Slam…Thank You Ma’am!

Grand Slam…Thank You Ma’am!

I had to break out the waders. Fifty-two degree air temps and 59 water temps…and wading in the shady gorge of the creek. While I missed the water-to-skin contact I so enjoy wet-wading, today was a day for wading pants.

A little doe, a white-tailed deer, walked along with me in the morning fog and light. (sigh) It was a little over a mile so I was sufficiently warmed up by the time I made it up the elevation of the trail to the place I wanted to access the creek. That was under 30 minutes. It would be another hour and a half before my dance partners were ready to begin our waltzes.

But first, upon entering the water, the first touch. Hands to clear water in deep gratitude. Heart open to the connections…water, rocks, trees, moss, fish, insects, human. Oneness.

Wading, casting, wading, stopping and looking with awe. Wading, casting…more awe, more smiling. And then, my dance partners were ready. But would only respond to one specific kind of dry fly. Not a stimulator. Not a caddis. Nope. Nope. Nope. Small parachutes, please. Purple dubbing…yes! Olive dubbing…yes! But only small parachute adams flies.

Okay. Whatever makes you all happy. When the dancing started, boy did we dance!

There had been 7 rainbow dances. Then a brookie danced. And I was like….I have another half mile or more of creek before I exit….COME ON BROWNIE!!! My mantra became, Come on Brownie! Two more dances with rainbows….the first time I’ve EVER said… Oh, another rainbow. I had my heart set on a slam…the three trout in the national park: rainbow, brown, and brook. The audacity of me to be disappointed when a wild trout decided to dance with me. I caught that snobbery immediately and made apologies.

And then….from right under a big stump, a flash of energy took the dry fly and I set the hook and Mr. Brown Trout erupted from the deep pool to grant me my wish: A GSMNP Grand Slam! The honey-colored belly flew through the air and I erupted in a loud WHOOP!!!

I was so psyched that I ended the day in a long, large pool–free of overhanging anything–and just worked on long casts. The creeks I fish are small and have so much growth overhanging or pushing in on the sides, it’s rare to be able to stretch out that beautiful loop. But I did and the rock where I was standing had a trout hiding there that eventually tired of my big boot being so close and slowly swam away. Ah, my pet rainbow.

There are always moments that remain frozen in my mind after such a perfect day. I reflected on them as I hiked down the trail: the light filtering through dense leaves and fog as I wade upstream; a trout rises a few feet from my boot to wait for the fly floating down the run…as it surfaces, it rolls its eyes toward me and at the last minute refuses (smart trout!); a rainbow I release as I kneel down on the rocks–I do this to keep the fish in the water as I remove the barbless hook–and the trout just stays in the shadow of my knee…so I continue to kneel and observe the trout just inches from me but nearly invisible…so perfect is their camouflage…I finally touch its tail suggesting it move on so I could stand up; the monster trout that swirls at the bottom of a big pool that rises to my fly and then dives back down and continues swimming around, totally ignoring my fly (another very smart fish).

Walking down the trail in the return to ‘reality,’ amidst all these beautiful reflections, I nearly stepped in a big pile of bear poo. Back to reality, Simone!

If you’d like to join me in an alternate reality of the fly fishing kind, I offer holistic fly fishing guide service. Most of my clients are women, new to fly fishing; but, anyone is welcome. We focus on the connection of life within the creek ecosystem, rather than how many fish are caught. Hone your skills, learn as a brand new beginner or just come along for the woo-woo…I create a safe space to learn and practice being a wading woman.

A Surprise on the Creek

A Surprise on the Creek

A few feet from me, the trout rose to the surface and sighted the fly as it slowly drifted down the run. It was like an athlete carefully watching as a ball was hurled toward it and then…BAM! It caught the fly with a quick slurp. 

I’m always learning from the trout magi. Something new is revealed each time I wade and wander in the creeks and rivers of the Smoky Mountains. But besides having really good interactions with trout today, I recovered something I lost a week ago, when the water was running higher and I couldn’t reach it. And I couldn’t have been happier.

Last week, I was casting to a beautiful, deep hole, over a seam of really fast water. The elk hair caddis—with an orange hot spot for sighting—was popular with the trout that day. And then, a cast drifted a little too close to a submerged log and got stuck. I had no choice but to break off and leave the fly. It was too dangerous to wade across and rescue it. 

Today, the fly was waiting for me and the water was down a lot. I cast to the pool first but was so excited to see my fly, I stowed the fly line and waded across to retrieve the fly.

The hair and feather creation was really soggy but as soon as I waded back across the creek, I changed tippet and tied this lucky fly on. I squeezed it mostly-dry and added some gel flotant and off we went, casting and dancing with trout. 

There’s something so fun about finding something I thought I had lost. Even though it was a little fly and I hadn’t thought about it since losing it last week, it gave me great pleasure to rescue it and use it to interact with trout again.

As I waded and cast, I pondered the metaphor of re-discovering something in life that we thought was gone. Maybe an idea or dream, a skill, a friend, a job. Sometimes it’s about physically ‘finding’ a lost object, but other times it might involve re-claiming a talent or simply remembering to pause and let our heart feel love, gratitude.

The idea of letting go has been in my mind and heart lately. Letting go of how I expect or want plans to work out and being present enough to navigate daily from an informed present moment instead of trying to guess what the future holds and make decisions from that weird place. 

I was bummed about losing the fly last week, but didn’t waste energy fretting or worrying about it. I simply let it go. And then, I was thrilled it was there waiting on my return today. It’s a little ‘thing’ but holds space for much bigger ideas about letting go, waiting on the right timing, waiting on better conditions before proceeding. 

What have you rediscovered lately that has been a good surprise? How has it affected you?

Twilight on the Creek

Twilight on the Creek

In that liminal space of twilight, the woods awakened. Gone were the busy people intent on a destination to a waterfall, a bridge, a mileage count. Here, the spirits of the woods emerged again to dance.

Thresholds…places of betwixt and between…places of power. Dawn gives way to light and brings hope and illumination. Twilight leads us to deeper and darker places, the richness of the Unknown opens before us and awakens us to the journey inward…deeper into our fears and hesitations.

I entered the water at twilight with the simple intention of coming back into balance. Alignment with all that is. Letting the water caress my feet and hands…coming home to myself. Arriving back ‘in’ Earth. 

As I stood in the water at the base of the falls, fireflies began to dance through the cool, night air. They guided me back down the trail as night enveloped me with Mystery. 

Letting Our Light Shine

Letting Our Light Shine

Earlier today, I was listening to Amy Ray as she was interviewed by Maggie Rose on her Salute the Song Bird podcast. Amy is known for her activism in environmental and social justice causes but perhaps more known as a singer/songwriter with her own band…oh, yes…and she’s one of the Indigo Girls. Aside from all of that, she said something in the interview that really caused me to pause and reflect.

Amy said she was exploring her own internalized misogyny. It was like a bell went off in my mind as I pondered the idea that women internalize this pervasive, ingrained, and institutionalized prejudice against themselves. Hatred, dislike, mistrust manifested in various forms of abuse, social shunning, ostracism. Oh…that?!!!

As I explored this in my own life, I realized that I’ve always had that negative seed within. It’s what culture taught us. What religion taught us…at least the religion I was exposed to as a child and teen. What schools taught all girls on the tennis team or any girls’ sports team where we’d lose our transportation to a match or game if the football coaches decided they needed the transport we were going to use. That really happened. A lot. Maybe it’s changed now…for the sake of our daughters and granddaughters, I certainly hope so. 

How have I distrusted myself and my strength? How have I viewed myself physically, emotionally? How deep is this darkness planted within me?

In a very sad coincidence, Sinead O’Connor passed yesterday. Her life was far more than a songwriter and powerful vocalist. She stood up against child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church and was labeled…well, what any powerful woman that stands against such an institution is labeled as…historically and even today. I watched an interview done in the 1990s from her SNL appearance where she tore up a photograph of the pope on live TV to protest the cover-up of the child sexual abuse by clergy. She said nobody was paying attention and that the Catholic church in Ireland purchased insurance to protect them from lawsuits 10 years before it became known worldwide of the rape, abuse and horrors children faced from those who were supposedly trustworthy. She refused to be quiet. She claimed her voice for children. She became a warrior…and still is labeled as a troubled soul as people remember her. We should all be so troubled. 

So, this idea that women who stand up and speak out are somehow crazy or to be feared…why, yes! Fear us, because we are weary of misogyny, that we have learned so expertly to turn against ourselves. Until we recognize our own self-hatred, distrust of our personal power and brilliance, and deal with this warped view of what it means to be a woman, we’ll continue to perpetuate those ideas in our lives and in the energy we put out into the world. It’s not something to judge ourselves over, as we are literally unwinding ourselves from the trauma and teachings that keep us small and kept our female ancestors from standing in their brilliant power. But it is something to work on healing by daring to speak our truth and digging deep to learn how light yearns to break free and shine through our beautiful hearts.

One of the reasons I wanted to provide opportunities for women to learn to fly fish is a direct answer to the misogyny which many of us carry within ourselves. We’ve been taught that there’s something inherently flawed within us…after all, it’s our fault that humans were cast forth from paradise….how can we ever get over that one? And that’s just one example, although huge, of how we are taught to judge ourselves so harshly and distrust ourselves. I wanted to provide women a safe place to learn and explore their strengths, fears, and dreams. That’s why I created Wading Women.

As I was walking along the creek today, I had a strong intention arise—I am going to be my shiny self, no matter what. I refuse to shield my light from anyone. And, I want to help other women grow into their own brilliance. For those drawn to wade and cast a line in these Smoky Mountain streams, let’s go play! Let’s be strong together! Let’s heal together!


Join Simone on a holistic fly fishing excursion in the Smoky Mountains It’s about empowerment, fly fishing and nature. Its based on a balance of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the experience and is founded in awareness of the environment and interconnectedness of all life. Visit the Wading Women page to learn more.