Tag: nature

Meet My Friend

Meet My Friend

As I wandered and waded today, I felt a bit off from my usual happy-water-vibe. I couldn’t settle into myself. Couldn’t cast worth anything. I was about to jump on my own case when I heard, like a trickling whisper, The wind is really strong today. It’s okay. It’s very gusty. Just relax and have fun.

So I relaxed and let go of trying to cast perfectly, took off the dropper (nymph fly) and started just playing with a dry fly in the wind. I worked on casting for about an hour. The wind gusted and stopped, gusted and stopped, and I casted and cursed…but only in fun. 

I was in a large (for this creek) area so I could actually do a full back cast. I chose different rocks to target and worked on accuracy in the crazy gusts. I didn’t worry about spooking trout because I was just playing around and practicing and had already cast all over the deeper pool and thought I’d scared any trout into hiding. 

Even with my casting and quickly stripping line in, a trout started rising in all of that madness and eventually took the dry fly, which totally surprised me after that much chaos in its watery realm. You never know when it comes to trout. (That totally blows every bit of advice on being stealthy while casting).

But it’s not the trout I want to introduce to you, kind reader. Today I want to introduce you to one of my best friends.

It is birthed at 3400 feet above sea level, where Chasm Prong and Gulf Prong come together, miles away from its terminal point at Oconaluftee River. Washout Branch and Bearwallow Branch are two of many small waterways that come together to create my friend, each adding their own unique energy to the ever-growing flow as it moves down, down, down.

When I was feeling out of sorts today, I stopped and looked at the wildflowers blooming, the bright green reflections of new tree leaves in its surface, and the moss-covered rocks around the banks and felt so grateful for the friendship we’ve shared over the past few years. 

Sometimes my friend is wild and too crazy to wade in, but days like today, my friend caresses my legs with its 58 degree temperature and makes me feel included, surrounded, part of itself. I can feel discombobulated with crazy monkey-mind shenanigans happening in my head, and my friend calms me, soothes me and points out birdsong nearby…or reminds me that the wind is rather gusty.

The creek has many friends that hang out…trout, bears, birds, wildflowers, snakes, mayflies, trees, moss, rocks…when we all get together it’s a real party.

It’s my sincere hope that all humans can find friends in Nature and visit regularly to have celebrations, dances, and prayer meetings. 

The Big Picture & The Details

The Big Picture & The Details

With all the rain yesterday and the rivers acting a bit wild, I grabbed my gear and headed for the water. But this time, it was my Nikon and tripod and a few lenses. The fly fishing gear stayed home.  Before I pulled out of the driveway, I put the 70-200mm lens on the D800 and prepared to be amazed.

I wasn’t quite prepared to be as amazed as I was. Elk walked up to my car as it sat parked on the side of the road with me safely inside. They were too close to even use the big lens at some points, but I still got some nice shots without getting out of the car.

On to the water I drove and found some beautiful waterfalls and rapids and rocks that were shining with Smoky Mountain moisture. It was good to visit the water, that I love wading in, with my big camera, so I could attempt to capture it a little better. I used a wide angle zoom lens to capture flowing water. iPhones are great, but there’s still nothing like a full frame camera to give such amazing depth and color…like the place comes alive through images I shoot with it. It’s just too heavy to carry while fishing.

The light got a little too bright, even with clouds, so I put the wide-angle lens and tripod away and attached the macro lens. It was fun to shift my attention from big water and rocks to tiny mosses and insects. What a fun exercise in awareness.

It’s a good reminder to look at the macrocosm of life–the big picture–but also to notice the details–the microcosm. There is beauty and power in both and we have to navigate both in life.

My macrocosm includes the overall life journey, fulfilling my purpose, connecting with others along the path. The microcosm in my life includes details like the work I do on a daily basis, taking care of my dog and cat kids, eating, staying active. Sometimes we can get stuck in one or the other of these realms…and that can lead to angst. If we keep both the big picture and the details in balance, we stay in balance and suffer less. Or at least that’s my experience.

Today I was reminded to look for beauty in the big picture of my life…the elk, river, rocks, mountains showed me that view. And those delicate moss blooms, tiny lichens and insects reminded me to pay attention to the small stuff, too. If I work on the small stuff, it helps the big picture develop into something quite amazing.

Letting Go

Letting Go

There is a nice bit of split creek I’ve never been able to reach. Honestly, I’ve never tried. One side has a steep bank with slower water, the other a channel of fast water. A gravel bed is in the middle. It always seemed out of reach. 

A couple days ago it really called me, so I walked down the bank past the area and checked it out. There was a large, downed tree that could act as a hand hold to cross a shallower part of the creek where it splits and a large rock I could climb and slide down the other side to reach a dry gravel bed. The only problem was I wouldn’t be able to climb back up the rock and wasn’t sure I could cross the slower part of the creek to exit the steep bank because I couldn’t see the depth of the creek. 

Even with the uncertainty, I felt compelled to take the risk and let go of my fear. 

The log provided perfect support as I used it to help me across the creek. I easily climbed the rock with my fly rod and wading staff in one hand. It wasn’t that far to the gravel bed but the only way down was to slide on my rear and just go. So that’s what I did.

I let go.

I reached the dry gravel with ease with a smile on my face. In surveying the creek depth, from the level of the surface, I saw that I could easily wade across and climb up the bank when I was ready to leave. Funny how I couldn’t see that until I took the risk to let so and slide to the other side.

How many times do we hold on to fear and refuse to take chances because we don’t know what’s on the other side. The thing is, we don’t know until we take the risk. When we let go of fear we open ourselves to all possibilities. 

Being ‘Reel’

Being ‘Reel’

The wind caused me to choose a slightly heavier fly rod. It was the first time I used it after it was gifted to me from the hands of an experienced and well-traveled fly fisher. I stripped line off the reel, did a slow backcast, paused for the loop to unroll and then sent the line forward. As soon as the dry fly kissed the water’s surface, a rainbow trout grabbed it and danced with me. As it arrived in the water at my feet, I gave the line slack and it unhooked itself and swam away with a no-contact release…my favorite way to end an encounter.

I considered it an auspicious way to receive the new rod and reel into my care. I think the rod was happy to feel the sun reflecting off its deep, translucent green surface. And the reel had its first-ever experience doing what it was born to do. 

Three hours of wading in the creek—under sunny, unseasonably warm air—was filled with rising trout, leaping trout, pouting trout, and the utter beauty of the Smoky Mountains. Water levels had dropped enough to once again make wading one of my favorite creeks safe and enjoyable. But I kept thinking of the reel. And the rod, but especially the reel.

It was a special purchase many years ago—a collector’s item of sorts with a special finish from a high-end manufacturer. My friend told me, when he gave it to me, that it had never been used. When I took the rods and reels he gifted me to Little River Outfitters, the guys there enjoyed each piece I shared with appreciation but especially the Abel reel and the Winston rod. Daniel helped me pick out line and backing that complemented the finish and suggested pairing it with the classic Winston. 

I wonder how the reel felt, after waiting all those years to fulfill its purpose, to be on the water, attached to an experienced rod, holding line and catching trout. I felt the balance of the pair as I lifted them to make that first cast, the smooth delivery of line, and the action as the fish engaged. The reel is a click and pawl reel, having no drag. Every reel has a voice and its voice is a growl, but after our time on the water yesterday, I think I heard a bit of a purr of contentment at being what it was born to be.

How many of us have waited and worked, hoping that someday our talents and skills align with work the world needs? What would that look like? What would it feel like to be ‘reel’ with the work we gift to the world? To be doing what makes our heart sing…or growl…or purr.

My Bones Remember

My Bones Remember

My bones remember Oneness as they move over ancient moss-covered rocks, through clear, rushing water.

Space within me becomes everything reflected in the quiet, still pool or the bright eye of the swimming trout.

Each cell mirrors the gnarled roots reaching, drinking deeply and branches soaring, dancing into blue sky.

If I looked for a lifetime, I couldn’t find anything within me that isn’t singing harmoniously with this place.