The Foundation

by | Sep 2, 2020 | 23 comments

Around the bend and upstream of the boulder field, there’s an old stone foundation that sits along the east bank of a strong side channel. It’s a relic of the logging boom around here, so the thick stones were cut and placed together two centuries ago. Water, earth and time have reclaimed nearly every man-made remnant in this valley, but the simple stone foundation remains. It’s a reminder that even in this remote place, tucked miles away on state forest land, these waters flow with history.

Either the ground has grown taller or the foundation has sunk into the wet earth of its shaded hollow. Dark green moss fills the widening spider web of cracks in the stone masonry, and large pieces of the structure have surrendered their hold, fallen from their intended form to be rocks again — free from the structure of a wall.

The foundation provides a perfect resting bench for observing the serenity of a forest. The stillness of standing oaks mixes with the unending flow of the river. Motion and rest. Calm respite beside flowing water as it follows a course. The timber and stones remain as the river passes along its journey. The water is both here and gone. Fixed and temporal. Present and past. It surges downstream around the undercut and out of sight. And it’s followed always by more — forever connected through adjacent molecules.

There is tranquility and stillness here — a place to do nothing but think. And that alone is valuable. Because there aren’t many places like this left in the world.

So, every time I visit this narrow valley, without fail, I make the diversion away from the stream and away from the fishing to sit on this old foundation. It’s familiar. And I know places where the stones bend just right, lending support for a good long rest. I sit here to think about whatever fills my thoughts. I sit for as long as the moment needs — until contentment creeps up to finally say, “Okay, we can move on now.”

And when the clutter is sorted, when my breaths are long and my heartbeat is steady, I rise with renewed strength and a reaffirmed peace with the world.

Because the foundation clears it all away.

Photo by Josh Darling

 

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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23 Comments

  1. This is part of the reason why I love to go to the river. I have my spot where I sit and just look around, listen and think. It slows my hectic world down and I do value this time and when I’m ready, I grab my fly rod and fish some more . Thanks Dom, after reading your story it put a smile on my face

    Reply
  2. Love your stories. I think a lot of us have a foundation out there somewhere.

    Reply
      • Nice. Every angler can relate. Often when on the stream I get fixed on fishing. This piece is a great reminder to pause, breathe and get back to the still point.

        Reply
    • NEXT TIME

      JUST LOOK AROUND…AND BECOME
      PART OF IT ALL..
      TAKE IT INSIFE YOU..BELONG..
      ONCE YOU DO THIS
      YOU ARE A NATIVE
      NOT A VISITOR

      Reply
  3. I’m not sure I can add to what Greg and Jason noted. A wonderful story that hit a familiar chord with me.

    Reply
  4. Wow- well said. Your stories form another sort of “foundation” for many of us who can’t get out to the river as often. Thanks for writing and please keep it up

    Reply
  5. A small story with huge message. As a kid more than 50 years ago I did this very thing whenever I fished a certain stream near my home. Just to sit and become part of it…the sounds of the water, birds, the cool dampness of the air and it’s rich smell…When an energetic kid of 11 years old can paused and get lost in the reality of all that it’s a powerful testament to what is truly important and meaningful.

    Reply
      • Nice. Every angler can relate. Often when on the stream I get fixed on fishing. This piece is a great reminder to pause, breathe and get back to the still point.

        Reply
  6. Inspiring! There’s lots of old homesteads in Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge/George Washington National Forest I love visiting. Also, there’s a wrecked airplane on one trail that reminds me of humanities trials and tribulations. I don’t have a particular foundation like you have but I often will sit by the riverbank, usually for a rest or tie on a new rig and just relax. It’s good for the mind and a good recharge for the body.

    Reply
  7. We all need places like that. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  8. There are old foundation walls like that on or near every stream I fish in New England; they provide me with a sense of and connection to family history, built as they were in the time when my ancestors settled in NH over 230 years ago. I’m never too rushed to sit and ponder over their struggle to survive in a harsh world and climate. I always rise refreshed and more at peace, to continue my walk or my quest for trout, with earthly cares pushed back to the corners of my mind for a while. Thanks for the reminder! Jeff

    Reply
      • The Japanese have a saying. Ichi-go ichi-e (Japanese: 一期一会 meaning “one time, one encounter”)
        Time on the water is rich with these moments. One simply needs to stop and recognize them.

        Reply

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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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