I'm sitting here at a keyboard in South Dakota, but my mind is
600 miles and 28 years away. My memories are wandering the shoreline of
a small lake high in the mountains of Montana. My brothers and father
are scattered along the shoreline searching with me for the golden hued
cutthroat trout that inhabit the lake. A fly rod in my hand, and rising
trout that randomly dot the glass surface of the lake complete the picture.
An all-but-forgotten fly called the Professor is tied to the end
of my leader, but that isn't the key to catching the fish in this
lake. Any wet fly with a white wing will do the trick. Summers are too
short here for the trout to be picky about the menu. If it looks like an
emerging insect, it's on the menu and it will catch these fish. They
aren't picky, just hungry.
On a distant ridge, a cow elk leads a wobbly-legged calf to a
better place to hide while she eats. Wolves and coyotes aren't her
concern, but bears are. If the calf is detected, it'll be lunch within
the hour. A salad of fresh grass can't compare to a fresh meal of elk
steaks when you're feeding youngsters of your own. Hide your child well,
mamma, this is a perilous time for newborn elk calves.
Not as dedicated to fly-fishing as I am, my brothers are casting
small spinners and my father is dunking a worm. I'm catching more fish
then the others, but nobody is suffering from a slow fishing day. The
fish may prefer flies to other baits, but any meal is worthy of a taste
when you are recovering from a long, hungry winter. If we weren't
releasing our fish, we would have our limit and be forced to quit in less
than 30 minutes.
The fresh smell of pine and the white crown on the pussy willows
compliment the new grass that is reaching for the sky. Everything seems
new except the snow banks that shroud the highest peaks. The clear
liquid from the melting snow will trickle down the mountainsides, joining
others to form the stream that feeds the lake. That's where
spawning cutthroat trout are renewing their numbers and insuring the
future of their species.
It's not my first trip to this lake; nor will it be my last, but
things are different. This year I graduated from high school,
and my life is changing in ways that will last forever. This is the last
time I will fish this lake with my family as a dependant son. It's the
last time my father will have all four of his sons living under the same
roof. It's the last installment of a family tradition.
I'm sucking in every smell, sight and sound, and locking it
securely in my memory. I won't take this day for granted like I have so
many days before this one. New freedoms await me, but as is always true
with new freedoms, old securities will be lost as I venture out on my own
into a big world full of uncertainty.
I wish I could make this day last a few hours longer. I wish I
could live this moment a little bit longer so the memories would be
better planted in my mind. Unfortunately, the world doesn't stand still
for me or anyone else, so I must absorb each item as fast and as
completely as possible before the sun sets on this family
tradition. It's a bittersweet moment in my life; one I'm sure I'll visit
in my mind many times before the sun sets on my existence.
Back at my keyboard in South Dakota, I shuffle those memories to
a corner of my mind where they can be found at another time. I have work
to do, stories to write, and a list of things I haven't finished. My
time is too short to waste it on memories of a day I will never see
again, but is it really wasted? For some reason I feel more refreshed
than I did an hour ago. I can now focus my thoughts a little better than
I did before my memory trip. It was worth the time spent after all.
Where is your memory begging you to go today? What moments in
time are waiting to refresh your soul? I think we all have a few special
moments we will treasure for the rest of our lives; moments that will
rescue us when daily life becomes burdensome. My moments often involve
outdoor activities spent with people I treasure.
Is there someone who you should be creating moments like this
with? Are you building treasures that will last your children or
grandchildren a lifetime? Or, are your only treasures measured in
monetary currency? I don't think I need to tell you which treasures are
valuable enough to last forever. ~
CREDITS: The photograph of the Professor fly is from Forgotten
Flies, see the review of it
here on FAOL.