His head tilted back and nose in the air, a wagging tail was all my younger brother was missing. I half expected a bark to come out of his mouth, but instead I heard, “I love that smell”. We’d just parked and opened the truck doors 200 yards from the stream, and already that sweet scent of spring creek perfume was in the air.
Instead of our usual route directly to the stream, we headed south to the trailhead that begins at the edge of the woods. Crossing the threshold of timberline seemed to have a magical element to it, almost as if we were leaving one world and entering another.
Our walk consisted of: conversations of books we were reading, pointing fingers at who forgot the tick spray, and identifying the bird songs around us. All deadlines and commitments of the outside world were checked at the treeline. We walked the shaded path at our own pace. No clocks to watch, no phones to answer, and nowhere we had to be.
After a short hike, we came to an opening and emerged from the cool shade of timber. Spread out before us was bright sunlight shining down on our home water, and behind us only trees. It’s as if that “tunnel" through the woods teleported us to an enchanted land.
We scrambled down the muddy bank, and arrived at the transformational boundary line that separates solid ground from liquid water. With our first steps into the stream came the spiritual feeling that only a spring creek emersion can provide. My entire body felt looser and lighter, as if I was letting go of a heavy weight I didn’t realize I was carrying. I felt... ALIVE.
We fished hard for a few hours, spooked dozens of wild rainbows, and each landed one with our Tenkara rods. We’d covered several promising runs and riffles, and with the hot sun now beating down; We agreed it was time for a break.
Typically we’d have found a seat on a bank log to snack on granola bars and beef jerky, but the pizza and cold beverage just a short drive a way were calling our names, so we opted for an offshore lunch instead.
While on our excursion to and from heavenly provisions, we found ourselves in conversation around physics phenomena that have puzzled us for years, like: if you’re sitting in the passenger seat of my moving truck and throw a buckeye in the air, why does it land in your hand and not in the back seat? (I’m sure the same would happen with a ball, but a lucky buckeye is what we found in my console). How do trees grow up instead of sideways while the earth spins so fast? Is it possible that there are dimensions in this world we don’t know about? You know, that kind of stuff.
Having exhausted our mental capacity for math and science, we sat on the tailgate to finish our cold beverages. In the middle of quenching our thirst, two cars appeared out of nowhere and were headed our way. One reason we’ve chosen this stream as our home water is because we rarely see other anglers there, so this was a little out of character.
Soon after the “beautiful day to be out” and “where are you from” introductions, the conversation moved to entomology, vintage fly rods, and fly tying materials. Note: The term “conversation” is typically reserved for those times when all who are present take turns sharing their thoughts. Let’s just say in this instance, my partner and I got quite the auditory workout, while our newly arrived “guests” proved the endurance of their vocal chords.
After the “good luck” and “nice to meet you” goodbyes, my brother and I headed back to the stream. Not twenty steps down the path, he turned to me and said “I could see how a little of those two could go a long way”, and it dawned on us why they had driven separate cars there. They were nice enough people, it’s just that in my everyday life I would’ve put them in the “please leave me alone” category. Instead, the atmosphere of the day provided the patience I usually reserve for my four year old.
We eventually returned to the stream to fish our favorite stretch before dusk set in, and ended up finding a few trout with their noses up and gullible enough to take our dry flies. For me though, those fish weren't the highlight of the trip. What I enjoyed most was that sense of freedom. The freedom to move at our own pace, to have conversations we’re usually too “busy” to have, and to be present in the time and space we were in.
We never reached a conclusion to whether or not other dimensions exist, but the world I’m transported to while on the stream keeps me from altogether dismissing the possibility.