Tag: Simone Lipscomb



I was about four hours into a very labor-intensive project. As dust swirled around me in my basement workshop, I stopped and looked at the many pieces of wood laying on the work bench, floor and the cutting table. What if this doesn’t turn out like I envision? My aching neck and shoulders grumbled and I recognized the risk: It could be a flop.

The project began as a desire to abstain from the commercialism of Christmas. After several years of not having a tree or decorating, I really wanted to bring lights and celebration into my home. There were excuses: Nobody every comes to my house anyway, so why bother? Or, It’s too much trouble, bah humbug! I think it was just a time in my life where I wasn’t feeling it. But now, I’m calling my passion back in, lighting up my life again.

I’m not sure how the idea of building a tree from scrap lumber started. It was a glimmer of a thought on a Saturday morning during breakfast and by lunch, dust was flying and I was wondering if I was wasting a perfectly wonderful rainy day. 

It took a lot of thinking and figuring how to design it so it could be disassembled and stored, and yet be sturdy. And a favorite way I create is to challenge myself by not buying anything for projects. How can I create something using materials and supplies I already have on hand?

During that dusty pause, I realized the project was much more than building a Christmas tree. It reminded me of dreams and life and passions. We never know if an idea we have or the path we take will lead to success, yet if we engage in life and take the risk to dream and infuse our dream with passion, we are actively engaging in the process of living, of being alive. 

As I looked at the stacks of wood pieces, I wondered if they would become the object of beauty I envisioned or firewood. Likewise, will my dreams and all the energy and time I’ve devoted to them become dust or will they flourish some day? 

We can’t answer those questions in the middle of it all. We can only keep creating, keep feeding our passion into our dreams and take the risk to continue on the path we build as we move through life.

I’m inviting light back into my life this holiday season and actively engaging in celebrating with childlike wonder. If nobody else sees the Tree of Life I built or the many lights winding around my stair banisters and fir tree that grew a few miles from here on the mountain slope, it’s okay. I see the lights and smell the wonderful fir smell and I’m nurturing the kid in me who loves Christmas and the adult in me that understands and honors the Solstice. It’s time to nourish my dreams once more.

How I built the Tree of Life:

I started by gathering all the scrap lumber I had. I used a slab of oak for the base and drilled a hole using a Forstner bit. I added a piece of 2 x 4 and also drilled a hole and matched it to the base and screwed them together. I used an old wooden handle as a dowel and sawed to proper length (finished the length sawing after I assembled). I used pieces of 1 x 6 boards for the cross pieces and cut them to length using a skill saw and then used my fabulous cordless jigsaw to create funky shapes with curves and angles. Each of these pieces also had a center hole drilled. I used a longer piece of 1 x 2 inch board for the spaces, each needing the center hole as well. I painted everything after doing basic sketches on the cross boards. I use a funky folk artsy style. In a little over 8 hours, I had the tree cut out, did a test assembly, took it apart and painted it and put a semi-gloss clear coat on it. I woke up the next morning with a lingering dream of how to design the star. I created it after breakfast using a piece of 2 x 4 drilled in the vertical end so it would sit on top of the dowel. I cut the star out of a square piece of plywood. I drilled onto the 2 x 4 before painting just in case anything cracked or broke. Once I had it screwed together, I painted the star. I ended up with about 10 hours of hard work in this project. I’m super-happy with the outcome. It’s fun and happy and makes me smile.

To the Brookies, Browns & Rainbows

To the Brookies, Browns & Rainbows

My friends Bill and Leleah

One hundred fly fishing outings in the past 18 months was celebrated with two friends that joined me in the creek where it all began. It was a very warm November day (77 degrees) and the water was a balmy 60 degrees…that’s an increase of 10 degrees in the last two weeks. I wet waded. In November. In the Smokies. In short sleeves. And was completely comfortable.

My first day on the water fly fishing

My first fly fishing experience was with guide Travis Williams of Trout Zone Anglers. Travis has since taken over operations of the Gatlinburg hatchery but I’ve gone fishing with David Knapp of TZA three times, since my beginning days as as fly angler, and every time I work with him, I gain skills in reading water, casting, wading, and deepening my love of this way of being.

A composite image I created from the creek and this amazing rock.

I don’t think of it as a sport, although many do. Fly fishing is a way of being in the world, for me at least. It teaches me how to relax and deepen with Nature. But something I noticed today…it gives me confidence in myself and my body.

Aside from casting, tying flies, and reading water, wading in these mountain streams is no joke. Yesterday I spent the day in a river on the Tennessee side of the national park and there one has to negotiate huge boulders and deep pools with a steep gradient. On the North Carolina side of the park, the gradient is less, the streams more gentle and one particular area has the longest flats I have seen around Western North Carolina. And the monstrous, bus-size boulders are rare in NC park streams. The skill of wading is valuable and necessary when fishing these places. Aside from water flow, deep pools, waterfalls, and downed trees, the rocks can be snot-slick. Seriously bust-your-bootie slick. Yoga is the best wading training for me.

Today I noticed vast improvement in my casting from 18 months ago; yet, my wading skills have improved just as much. I now move with confidence across streams and have learned to find safe routes through puzzles of pools, trees, and flow. A wading staff is a very valuable piece of equipment.

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

Perhaps, kind reader, indulge my passion for a moment or two more as I share a few of my favorite memories over the past 18 months of wading wonder.

There was that time the mother otter brought two babies very close to me as I stood in the middle of a still pool. Or the differently marked trout I caught that was solid silver with red spots (probably a brown trout with different coloration). There was that time last autumn when I was sitting on a rock in the middle of the creek and lost myself in the golden reflection of leaves on the water’s surface and drifted into the ‘gap’. Just a few weeks ago, I was fishing with David Knapp in Tennessee and the autumn colors lit up the water like fire….that was amazing! Or that time ice was floating on the water’s surface as I waded and saw two trout sunning in shallow water. And then there was the time I caught a brook trout, released it, and waded up the gorge to find a still-dripping bear paw print on a rock.

Photo by Simone

Fly fishing is a way of life for me because it combines so much of what I love: physical intensity (hiking and wading for miles), creativity (tying flies), athletic ability (casting and wading), sleuthing (reading water, finding trout), meditative stillness (taking in the beauty).

I practice catch and release and keep the fish in water as I remove the hook…which has no barb. I learn from trout and consider them some of my most important teachers on how to live, move, and be in the world. To the rainbows, browns and brookies….thank you my friends.

And….special thanks to the amazing guys at Little River Outfitters. They have welcomed me into their fly fishing family and continue to be a source of great information, gear, and fishing friendship. And to David Knapp of Trout Zone Anglers for helping me deepen my skills and love of this amazing way of life.

Wading in a Kaleidoscope

Wading in a Kaleidoscope

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

Colors exploded on the water’s surface. The sky was filled with shimmering yellows, dotted with oranges and reds in vibrant contrast. Often, I found myself stopping mid-stream and letting the fly rod rest while I captured photos of the kaleidoscope of color.

David Knapp, of Troutzone Anglers. Photo by Simone

David Knapp, of Troutzone Anglers, was guiding me on a fly fishing trip, but was very patient in my obsession with color and reflection….and beauty. He understands, as a photographer and nature-lover. 

Photo by Simone

Brilliant sunshine illuminated the trees and they glowed in their autumn glory. Oh, yeah, and beautiful rainbow trout danced with me. And I was introduced to a new section of water. And I got to climb over boulders and play among shimmering pools that were alive with trout and colors—all the things that help me feel alive and happy and in balance.

Photo by Simone

I started my fly fishing education with a guide that works with David. Travis started with the basics and helped me begin a practice that has quite literally changed my life. Since then, I have fished with David when I wanted to expand my skills and learn new water. I guess there are many guides that can do that, but with David I find another person that is in awe of nature as much as I am. He gives me space to enjoy the beauty yet he keeps me focused and challenges me to be a better fisher by teaching new techniques and ways to read water.

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

After our last outing in July, I started a dialogue with him about wanting to work with women as a guide and help empower them through fly fishing. On our trip last Friday, while wading or hiking between fishing spots, we discussed guiding. When I imagine a future of guiding women on fly fishing excursions into the wilds of the national park, I know the mentoring I am receiving will be a light for the way forward.

Photo by Simone

Lately, the idea of connecting with others has been coming to me through conversations with Cherokee elders, books I’m reading, and even social media posts. Connection. Real conversations. Imagine opening ourselves to connecting…listening to others…being present. Being genuine. Last Friday I had the opportunity to be outdoors, in water, around rocks, under crazy-colored trees and connect with all of that Mystery and Magic and connect with a professional guide that is willing to engage in a genuine way through his work. For all of that, I am deeply grateful.

And the stars of the day…rainbow trout. It’s all catch-and-release. Photo by David Knapp

When you find someone that understands your vision and supports it and is excited about it, it’s a true gift. So I’m grateful for David. And I’m excited to work with women wanting to deepen their relationship with Nature, with themselves, through fly fishing. When you find kindred spirits, you know you are on the Path. Keep searching. Keep listening. We’ll all find each other.

David Knapp pausing to allow me a moment to ooh and ahh about the colors…. photo by Simone.


I’ve been searching for a way to describe what I feel when wading small, pristine, remote creeks while fly fishing. As a writer, it’s been especially frustrating not to be able to find words that adequately express my experiences. 

Last weekend, I came to understand that the English language would, if I were to attempt explanation, put boundaries or limits around my experience and the Mystery would be lost. I surrendered the idea of labeling my profound experiences of renewal and peace. I accepted that they would simply remain unexpressed through language and in a feeling state within me.

Just after giving up and accepting that there were not adequate words to fully convey what I was feeling, I was reminded of the Cherokee word Tohi. A beautiful smile erupted from within as I sat and listened to Dr. Tom Belt, a Cherokee elder, describe the meaning of the word.

Tohi is the Cherokee word for wellness, the ideal state of being. It’s a word full of meaning…peace, harmony, balance. Lisa Lefler, in her book Under the Rattlesnake: Cherokee Health and Resiliency, wrote: “Tohi is a fully confident sense of a smooth life, peaceful existence, unhurried pace, easy flow of time. The natural state of the world is to be neutral, balanced, with a similarly gently flowing pattern…All aspects—physical, mental emotional, and spiritual—figure into the Cherokee concept of good health.”

So, there is a word—one word—that fully describes my experience in the sacred creeks of this place. It’s in a language that is based on verbs instead of nouns to communicate. It doesn’t label life but rather describes the connections and expresses an active way of being in the world. 

Tohi—one word tells the story about what is taking place within me as I wade, fly fish, and open myself to the beauty around me. It doesn’t take away the Mystery to use this word, rather it deepens the Mystery and draws me ever-closer to It.

Water Water Water

Water Water Water

Be careful what you wish for. Yesterday, I walked in the rain for 4 ½ miles and loved it so much I made a comment on social media that it was one of my favorite things. I think the rain listened.

Today, I wasn’t expecting rain while hiking and wading during fly fishing. But I did go prepared with my GoreTex jacket.

As soon as I parked, the rain started. While I geared-up, it kept coming. As I walked the two and a half miles up the trail…more rain. And even though GoreTex is breathable, sweat was rolling down my back. Water was rolling off my jacket. The sky was opening up and it was glorious.

It poured. It sprinkled. But one thing it didn’t do was stop.

And neither did I.

Nearly six miles of wading and hiking and casting was Medicine for me today. I wish I could come up with a word that described how much I love being in the creek, engaging fully with the life of that place, the energies that reside there and interact with me as I breathe with them.

I’m not the only one loving the rain.

Alas, I’ll just have to keep returning and exploring just how I can describe something so beneficial to me…in every way. Hopefully, it’s beneficial to Nature as we deepen our understanding of each other.