Squinting through my sunglasses, I strain to see what is hidden beneath the surface of the mineral blue water. The sun is well past its peak, with only an hour or so until it will fall behind the ponderosa pine and aspen covered mountain side. At this subtle angle of light, my silhouette casts a long, dark shadow, sharply contrasting with the mirrored brightness of the water surface. Boulders at the base of the canyon wall reach into the water where their edges are softened by the relentless scrubbing of stream flow. A few sharp edges remain, at least for now.

Colorado Rocky Mountain High

Being near a stream, even without fishing, clears my mind and activates all my senses. Listening to the rush of the water, I wearily stare at the light grey granite boulders within the stream. Against each boulder, pulsing water advances and retreats in a rhythmic dance. Each advance paints a dark line delineating its fleeting presence that is intermittently revealed with each retreat.

Nature’s Disco Ball

Within the darkened surface, bright reflections speckle the rock surface. Shimmering droplets are captured along each remaining edge wetted by the flow. The sparkle of the miniature reflections is washed away and recreated with each pulse, consistently both present and absent from my view.

It’s there and it’s not.

The natural disco ball entrances me. My eyes lose focus and I fall into my own mental advance and retreat. My memories, like the rounded granite, are muted by time and exhaustion. Details flash and fade like the reflections of light. Traveling west of the Mississippi for my first trip to fish in the fabled rivers of Colorado, I reflect on my first times fly fishing and appreciating how far I’ve come. Regretfully, I can’t remember the first trout I caught on a fly. Different times, places, and people flood my mind. Which one is it?

It’s there and it’s not.

The skill and knowledge I’ve gained over the last decade of fly fishing enriches my life beyond comparison to anything besides my relationships with my family. Yet, with all the lessons and practice, each wading step I take in the river oscillates between confident stability and precarious balance. Each cast of a fly has the chance to be on target or wrap around a branch of a lurking rhododendron. Each word intended for encouragement to my child can land as an unwanted, painful criticism.

It’s there and it’s not.

The stories I tell become more fiction than accurate recounts of the event. Gaps in my knowledge expand, concepts separate that were once connected. Names and faces are not as easily linked. The tip of my tongue has grown to where I can’t find things on it without multiple prompts. Conversations I want to have, ideas I want to share and activities I want to complete are lost to mindless television shows, zoom meetings, and spreadsheets.

It’s there and it’s not.

As the sun falls behind the trees, the spell of the pulsing water reflections is broken, and I walk back to the cabin. Dinner is waiting and I am joining others at the fly fishing writer’s seminar. Thoughtful words will be spoken, and clever jokes will induce laughter. How will they resonate and carry on within me? What does time and experience create?

It’s there and it’s not.  

Canyon Shadows

Keep mending…

One Reply to “It’s There and It’s Not”

  1. Your descriptive phrases paint a refreshing picture of your experiences!
    What did you think of Colorado? Did you find the air different, the sun not as hot?
    It sounds like you will do some fishing next time!
    Don’t belabor memories! We can’t remember everything! Sometimes it is the obscure that comes to mind!
    I am glad you are back!

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