Home Waters

Home Waters

In the gray light of dawn, mist was rising from the surface of the Oconaluftee River. I looked ahead and saw two white-tail does and a tiny fawn splashing in the water. They spied me and stopped. Even though I froze, they were no longer comfortable in their play and went on guard, as any smart deer would do. 

They reminded me of another area I walk. There is a doe I often find frolicking in the water on a bend in the creek where she plays. I always look for her, a water sister.

This morning, after observing the fawn and does playing, I walked on. Within a few minutes I saw an elk cow and calf in the river. Light was shimmering on the water’s surface, leaves were backlit and framing the scene in glowing green hues. All of these gentle creatures, going to water to find relaxation, peace, nurturing.

I struggle for words to express how being in water heals me. I find deep kinship with the deer and elk as they stand in the flow and attend to the present moment—breathing, sensing, being. Like the Cervids, I wander into water—I collect water to filter for drinking, but sometimes I just stand and breathe and feel the cool water rushing against my skin. Like them, I am home in these waters.

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

I was born on a small bay in coastal Alabama and grew up there with a childhood full of brackish-water adventures. As an adult, I found scuba diving and cave diving immensely pleasurable. But fly fishing has brought me to my home waters.

Traditionally, home waters is a term used to describe an area of sea around one’s own country. In fly fishing, we talk of home waters as being the waters near where we live and fish. After spending many days wading in all weather and seasons, I have come to understand that home waters are the waters I carry within my body. And those waters are never separate from the rivers and creeks around me.

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