Right Here

by | Apr 13, 2018 | 21 comments

I guess I’ve been searching for something.

For months now, I’ve spent my time on the water fishing progressively more remote locations. Turning down offers to float and cast over abundant wild brown trout on our major rivers, I thought I was looking for solitude. What I’ve found is a companion so powerful it cannot be passed off as simple memory. It’s my own history, and I’ve felt it so presently that it seems at times my flat shadow may take form and rise from the leafy ground to start a conversation.

I’ve returned to the waters where I’ve been, to revisit not the fish, but the places in time. These memories are eminently tangible out there, without the clutter of accumulated things in my home, the garage or the grocery store to get in the way. A trout stream, miles removed from hard roads, and sunken into a valley beyond the distance of average effort, offers a peaceful reward and a naturally blank slate for anyone willing to seek it. And when thirty years have passed between visits, the reflections I’ve found in these familiar waters are astonishing.

These wild places tucked into the narrow, protected reaches of state forests are permanent; they are stronger and more lasting than a generation of persons. It takes tens of thousands of years for water and weather to erode the valley into a new shape, and I have less than a hundred years to roam through my own space in time.




— — — — — — —

Rising before the sun, my grandfather left camp. He walked a hundred yards to the cold stream and crossed it. Then he climbed to the top of the mountain. Hours later, he raised the shotgun, killed a twenty pound bird and hiked three miles back to the camper with a wild turkey on his back.

— — — — — —

Here

Right here.

This is where we camped when I was a boy. My grandfather, my uncle and my father often appropriated this small pocket of land, firm enough to support a well-used Coleman pop-up camper, or at times a musty and leaky tent.

In this place I learned who we are as a family and why I feel the pull of these wild places so deliberately. As I stand on this ground and inside this memory, I can see and feel it all again.

Buried under decades of fallen leaves-to-dirt, the fire ring is gone. But I can feel the heat and hear the laughter as I stand here. I’m taller now, and I’m stronger than when I was a boy. I’ve grown, and yet I’m old enough now that I’m slowly falling apart. What will I be in another thirty years?

Standing here, I feel the inevitable certainty that I will die, and I think of my own sons. Who will they be in thirty years? I finally understand that they are the reason all of this is so important.

Eventually, I pick up the fly rod and move toward the stream. Led along a path suggested by the spacing of standing oaks and spruce stumps, I can feel the balance as I walk where I once walked before. Halfway to the water, and I’m again overwhelmed by the awesome weight of present memory and my own history in this place.

Walking in his footsteps, I take a knee and whisper  . . .  “Grandfather.”

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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21 Comments

  1. Thanks Domenick, another great post! Taking my 23 year old son for his first fly fishing trip this weekend. Making memories.

    Reply
  2. Well written. Great photographs. A pleasure. Thanks
    Ted Rzepski

    Reply
  3. It was a pleasure to read and the pictures are stunning! I love the colorful lizzard as well as the great picture of the brook trout.
    Keep things going!
    Tight lines
    Tom

    Reply
  4. Beautiful article and pics! I know the feeling!

    Reply
  5. Domenick, I have to say if you have a book out, I want it. If you don’t, I have to ask why not?

    Reply
  6. Domenick,

    I love your blog…You truly capture the essence and joy of fly fishing, both in solitude and with children. I enjoy reading every one.

    Reply
  7. Very much enjoyed this meditation and accompanying photographs!

    Reply
  8. Amazing! Great post about family and fly fishing.

    Reply
  9. Beautiful pictures, Beautiful memories

    Reply
  10. Thanks Dominick,
    I thoroughly enjoy your blog and have learned volumes from you on mono rig fish (and much more), which is all I use, sans the rare occasions when the rises become irresistible.

    I am a first generation fly fishermen, but I do share many fond memories of conventional/rod and reel fishing with my father, uncles and cousins. And there are many campgrounds and points of entry I look forward to visiting again one day. So this one really spoke to me. I never did that much fishing with my Mom, but interestingly enough it is she who I frequently encounter a very profound closeness to when I am wading alone. Not something I could easily explain, so thanks for capturing it so eloquently.

    I look forward to establishing some of these special places you refer to with my two young daughters as they soon take to the water with me.

    Thanks again!

    Reply

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