Category: Eco-Spirituality

Wading in Wonder

Wading in Wonder

This little creek was waiting for me…for months.

Heavy fog envelopes my home and everything near the Tuckaseegee River. But that river isn’t the one calling me in the gray, pre-dawn light. A small prong in the national park has been calling me for months now. Two days ago it was roaring with heavy rain that fell in a flash flood event so I couldn’t visit it. Today, I think it will be sweet.

I feed the critters and myself in record time and load the gear. Fog clears as I put the Tuckaseegee behind me and steer towards the national park. It’s too early for tourists so the small town I drive through is quiet The energy of the park feels still, with elk grazing serenely in the mountain meadow.

On I drive, passing beautiful pull-outs along the river. And finally, I arrive at a small parking area where I’ll begin my wade up. I check the water temperature…sixty degrees. Air is 58 degrees. I think I’m in heaven even though the first step into the rushing, clear water sends shocks up my body. But wet wading connects me more completely with water. No separation. 

I check the Gaia app and get my bearings as to where the little prong is located along the trail. And finally, I head up to meet this little body of water.

I bushwhack a bit, asking permission from the creepy crawlers and creatures of the place to allow me passage. As I step out of the dense foliage on to the moss-covered, rocky bank, I am immediately transported into a place of bliss within myself, in harmony with all life. I am embraced with welcoming beauty that brings spontaneous laughter from my depths. Soul laughter

In a creek this small, fly fishing is challenging; so is navigating rocks and rushing water and steep, rhododendron-covered banks. A first visit always brings a sharper edge of adventure and wonder. Part of the appeal is working the puzzle of wading upstream—navigating rocks, eddies, small rapids.

There’s a nice, quiet spot of water….I do a vertical cast and BAM! A rainbow dances with me for a few moments until I gently release it back into the rushing water. Such a mighty sister!

Up and up I wade, marveling with the mystery of this place; grateful it is protected protection.

Wading a small creek and working hard physically to navigate its structure brings me closer to it. It becomes a visceral opening–me to it, it to me. There is no conquering, only unity of movement. Respect.

Sparkling rainbow graces me again as I cast into another calm hole. Sweet teacher, spirit friend…thank you for helping me learn more about your home, my home. My soul-skin, now consciously expands to include all of this magnificence.

After a couple hours, I’ve greeted a couple more rainbows and am in a good place to hike back down the trail. As I wander back to the car, I feel the soft, green moss on gray boulders moving through me. Likewise, clear, clean water moves through me even as I sit here, hours later, reflecting on this life I am so grateful to inhabit. 

Great Spirit, light of creation that unites us all, thank you for life that expresses in such amazing beauty—flowing water, flashing fins, flowering shrubs, singing heart. Tears flow with love for all creation, as the creek flows onward from the heart of the mountain, to the river, to the sea.

This is Living

This is Living

The air temperature suddenly drops. I wonder if there is a thunderstorm approaching. The canopy of greens makes it impossible for me to see the sky. The stereo of rushing water in riffles downstream and in a small rapid upstream make it impossible to hear anything else. Dapples of sunlight are still creating light diamonds on the 60 degree water…I’m gonna wade more.

The hike to my entry point was graced with a elk cow, standing alone in the green forest. She guarded the gateway, the threshold, into that other realm of rocks, water, ferns, trees, and trout.

As I wade, memories of a recent casting lesson from a favorite mentor at LRO seem to click in and suddenly my casts are smooth, the fly floats and gently kisses the surface and multiple times my rod bends as wild trout teach me the arts of balance and patience. Their multi-colored bodies glisten in the creek water as they come close and then flip off the barbless hook. Better than having to handle them to remove the hook and release them. We find an agreeable way to be together…my teachers in trout form.

Because of the easy creek slope, I find myself wading without having to exit around rapids. The water level is perfect: low enough to make it safe in deeper areas but high enough to provide great habitat for trout. Fly fishing opens me to flow—of water, line, breath. It turns me inside out and brings out the profound calm of my deep, inner water and gives healing in ways nothing else has…except maybe scuba.

Nearly four hours pass and I still wade upstream. The only word that comes close to describing the experience is magic. But wait…was that thunder? I can’t tell but decide to exit the creek and see if I can glimpse the sky. I move closer to the meadow and there are some dark gray clouds in the distance. I decide to head back up the trail, toward my car just in case. 

About a quarter mile from my exit point, I find another beautiful area that begs for a dry fly. I climb down the rocky bank and toss a fly and sure enough, a beautiful rainbow trout finds me whispering words of gratitude as I gently remove the hook that is barely even engaged with the fish. I wade up and up and up more. I lose track of time but notice the sun is no longer visible. I pay closer attention to sounds…is that thunder again?

I remain in a state of Oneness and bliss as I continue to wade and cast. I munch on dark chocolate, cheese, and almonds. I stop and filter water to drink. And then continue wading, celebrating beauty.

The exit point comes and goes, I continue on, but the fish have disappeared. I think it might be time to go, they are urging me back to my car. And then…BOOM! Yes, it’s time.

I reel in the line and stow the fly. Backtracking to an easy egress point doesn’t take long and then I’m only a quarter mile above my car.

As I emerge from the cover of woods, dark clouds are mixing with white, puffy clouds. I set a steady pace across the meadow and breakdown the gear within minutes. By the time I drive past the overlook, rain is blanketing the next ridge over and skies are dark.

Deep calm envelopes me still. The trout do this to me…they demand I find my deep center. The rocks demand I be grounded. The water demands I stay alert. Words escape me now, hours later, as I try to express how I feel…still embraced in the flow, still in that place of calm, deep water within the depths of my being. A wood thrush is in the woods, just outside my home. The flute-like, sweet song makes me smile.

Oh, yes. I love experiencing a life where there is no need to escape for a vacation. This is living. This is bliss.

Fun on the Fly

Fun on the Fly

As twilight descends, yellow mayflies swarm around me. They had been hatching throughout the 5 mile walk/wade, but just as light fades the little faery-like beings begin to swarm.

Recently, I decided to combine my daily walk with fly fishing. I’ve always been a morning hiker, cycler or whatever outdoor urge calls, but lately I’ve been drawn to twilight, that mysterious threshold between light and dark, where the mystery of the creek is experienced.

The air temperature is 72 when I start walking. Unencumbered by wading pants (but wearing hiking pants), the hike is so much more pleasant. When I first step into the 60 degree water after walking 25 minutes, it feels magnificent. Fish are jumping…no, leaping out of the creek. Insects are falling from limbs and emerging out of the water. And so it goes for the entire three hours.

At one pool, a big brown trout leaps after my fly and makes me squeal. I know she’s probably still laughing her trout laugh. A little farther on, a trout leaps. I cast to the trout and it grabs the fly and spits it out before I can even react. But how much fun! Serious fun.

It’s challenging to describe the peaceful spirit that hovers over the forest and creek as the day begins to end. Light is warm and inviting. Cool air caresses my face with tenderness. Everything seems to exist in a deep harmony. 

As I stand at the shallow edge of a deep hole, I feel the energy of water as it chills my feet and lower legs. Wet wading…the absolute best way to fly fish because the connection to the fish and forest deepens for me with no separation between my body and the body of water.

Nearly everyone else is home eating dinner or tending to kids or whatever. I find profound balance comes from this quiet time, with hardly anyone else around…well, except for the trout and insects. 

As I listen to my body after hours spent in the twilight of the creek and forest, I feel such relaxation and peace. My energy is strong yet sweetly in harmony with Nature. Gratitude bubbles up from my depths, the flow within is strong. For the yellow mayflies, the midges, the trout, the creek and rocks, the trees and green plants and lush ferns, the strong body that carries me outdoors and for an open heart that can take it all in…I am grateful.

____

On a side note, a song I haven’t heard in decades started playing in my mind as I walked, but I could only hear one phrase: Here I am baby, come and take by the hand. I couldn’t remember the group or other lyrics so I sang this to the forest and the creek and the fish for three hours. And even to two other hikers who passed me. Upon returning home, I found the song! UB40 was the reggae group and it’s an awesome tune. Here are some of the lyrics: “I can’t believe that it’s real, The way that you make me feel. The burnin’ deep down inside, The love that I cannot hide. I know it’s you I need, baby, And it makes the world go round. I’m keeping’ you in love with me, baby, Laying all my troubles down. Here I am, baby, come and take me. Here I am, baby, come on and take me. Take me by the hand. Ooh, show me. Here I am baby.”

Seems very fitting to sing this to Nature as I walk in bliss and wonder.

Arrived

Arrived

The full moon crested the ridge, as clouds parted, at the end of an amazing evening of music along the French Broad River. I caught glimpses of the total lunar eclipse as I made my way home. An hour and forty-minute drive through the Pisgah National Forest, the rolling hills of Waynesville and finally, toward the Smoky Mountains…where I live, move, and have my being.

That was Sunday night with Grayson Capps and Corky Hughes. Saturday night in Asheville, I witnessed the magic of Will Kimbrough. All three are favorite musicians that are dear to my heart and they live or originated on the Alabama coast. I hadn’t seen them since moving here two and a half years ago. I hadn’t seen any live music during that time because of…you know, the plague.

When I moved from the Gulf Coast, back to the mountains, it had been an insane time of real estate deals falling through at the last moment (my entire house was packed) and then a miraculous deal that pushed everything into ‘go.’ The stress between the two was probably the worst in my life. So when I finally moved, there was a shattering that had taken place.

I realized last night, while surrounded by massive trees and the river and music that echoed from that time to now, that these three friends were bringing back a part of myself that simply hadn’t arrived with the relocation. Will started the delivery on Saturday and Grayson and Corky brought her home.

The other thing I realized last night is how much Nature has opened my heart during these many months spent wading, hiking and communing with rocks, creeks, trees, flowers, and the energies that reside here. Many internal barriers have been laid down as I have expanded and grown clearer, more open.

Thanks to Will, Grayson and Corky for bringing back the part of myself that got left behind on the Gulf Coast. It was time….how wild that they all showed up in the same weekend. I’m so grateful to my soul friends for providing the way.

I arrived home as the eclipse peaked. I think that’s no coincidence.

Rainbow Shaman Trout

Rainbow Shaman Trout

A tunnel of green reflected off the water’s surface as I stood in awe of the beauty: rocks, water, trees. Green. Intense green that shows evidence of life, of living.

As of yesterday, it’s wet wading for me…nothing separating me from liquid bliss. The wader pants are stowed, awaiting cooler temps in autumn. When I gently stepped into the 60 degree water, I felt the chill but soon appreciated the connection of skin to clear mountain creek.

I’ve always thought this particular place is magic. So many times I’ve dropped into an altered state of deep stillness as I communed with the energies of the creek and forest and mountains. Today, I met a trout that was one of the magical beings that reside here…or so it seemed.

I’d been standing about an hour in a favorite pool and finally found a fly the trout liked. I had several strikes within a few minutes and then BAM! A beautiful rainbow trout dove for the bottom. I watched her dive and rub her mouth on the rocks, attempting to shed the tiny, barbless hook. I reached out with the net and kept her in the water. I looked away for a moment to tuck the fly rod under my arm so I could attend to the hook removal. She obviously had other plans.

When I turned back, the fly was left, hooked in the net, and the fish was gone. Gone!

I checked the net and it was fine. The fish was too big to fit through the soft, silicone mesh. I must have tipped the edge under the surface, but honestly, in that moment it seemed as if the trout was a shape-shifting shaman trout.

The shimmering emerald water captured my attention as I paused and pondered the missing fish. I smiled as I wondered if I had slipped into an alternate reality of faeries and gnomes and magical fish. 

Clouds covered the sun and after an hour of standing in chilly water, I needed to warm up. Since I was over two miles up the trail, I decided to head back down in case the storms started early. I stopped at a few places and then decided to hike up the rapids above a favorite deep hole. I didn’t catch anything there, but it’s one of my favorite places. When I get above the little rapid, I feel enclosed by massive rocks, deep water, and green…luminescent green. 

We all need a special place in Nature where we feel the magic. Where’s yours?

These butterflies find their magic in a pile of horse poop….you never know where magic will be found.