In the fall of ones life, it is a time of pause and reflection. The fullness of a mostly used up allowance of time here on this rock, and a lot less looking ahead.
In the case of a life spent in the outdoors, it is like a constant flow of old movies playing out in that ever expanding theater of the mind. When we get older,we can selectively recall pleasant experiences that make us feel good and even cause us to smile, and possibly alter our mood for a brief moment. The older we get the more movies we store in that place in our brain that allows us to recall them when we make time to quiet and still.
Lying in bed at night and struggling with sleep is the time I find myself searching through the archives in my brain and trying to recall a peaceful, soothing event from the past that relaxes me, eventually leading to sleep.These happy thoughts usually involve moving water. Rivers, streams, and trout.
I think of places I have been and fished; occasionally fish I have caught or lost. But, mostly I think of the places themselves. Beautiful places. Quiet places. Most of these places would be in Northern Michigan, but there are many choices of places with flowing water and pleasant sights, sounds, and smells for me to reflect on. I have been fortunate to have been in more than my share of beautifully places in forty years of fishing. The barren landscape of the sub-arctic in northern Quebec, and the brilliant spawning colors of the large Brook Trout. The endless wild and remoteness of Labrador. The mountain streams and rivers of West Virginia and Tennessee in the spring time. The Two-Hearted and so many rivers of of the U.P. that offer an uncrowded and semi-wilderness experience.
I think of the Yellow Warblers along the banks of Augusta Creek close to my home, and the downstream swing of a wet fly on water to skinny for a back cast. The Red Bud, dogwoods, and Laurel in the mountains of the south, and the most wonderful, and perfect fly fishing water of the famed AuSable, here in Michigan. If I am able to totally lose myself in these pleasant recollections, I can smell the sweet ferns and cedar along the banks of a Northern Michigan river. I can recall the close, interactive feeling of wet wading on a warn summer afternoon, and actually feel the water. Watching a delicate, dainty mayfly drift by on the surface. The Cedar Waxwings perched above, waiting, like me, for the anticipated flight of these life sustaining insects in the coolness of the northern evening.
The total joy of a stretch of wild water to have to yourself, realizing you can stop, sit on a log and just be there, Alone. No one is coming behind you or above you on the river, today. Just you and the joyous sounds of the Yellow Warblers flitting along the bank, the deep blue sky above, and all the time in the world to stop and just watch the river, thinking about all that matters, and push away from thoughts that do not matter. Think about the river and how alive it is, as alive as any bird or tree or plant, or myself. I think these thoughts when sleep won’t come to me, and it is the most pleasant thoughts to have in the last waking moments before sleep. One can only hope that our dreams are filled with such clean, free flowing rivers of thoughts as sleep finally overtakes our anxious, sometimes worrisome waking life.