A Natural High
October 26, 2018
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Where do you learn about a natural high?
A natural high was always around the corner where I grew up in Colorado. My dad taught me to fish and love the outdoors. I fished or hiked or ran or biked almost every day of my life. It started with running beside my dad as he rode his bicycle up the Waterton Canyon on the South Platte River. Our family camped almost every summer, hiking and fishing and bringing home snakes to Mom. Lots of fun.
Fly fishing started in earnest while stationed in Scotland.
I wish I could say I caught one salmon on a fly there. I did enjoy many a Scottish river and lake, several single malt whiskies, and the beauty of hiking Ben Nevus in the purple hues of heather in the Highlands. There was also running around The Loop, through the fields of blooming tulips and crocus and snapdragons. Or, biking up the winding Blue Door road where you might be lucky to see one car.
Scotland seemed to me one of the most beautiful countries in the world. When the sun was out. Which was fleeting, a bit like the movie Brigadoon. One day you had the bright sun blazing the aching green grass and trees and multicolored flower gardens. The next day fog and horizontal rain. But even those days could be fun. Go out for a run in your raingear and feel the rain pelt your face. The wind pushed your body, and you smelled the fresh-plowed earth of a farm. Just don’t forget to put plastic bags over your socks or your feet will blister easier.
Then came Pensacola:
An epic summer battle to land a hundred-plus pound tarpon on a fly. The winter chill and sight of acres of big redfish in the gulf and teasing one to take a popper.
The take and reel-burning run of a false albacore. Or, just sitting on the Gulf as the waves slapped against the boat and rocked you up and down. Suddenly startled by a giant manta ray broaching the surface in a spectacular jump all the way out of the water.
You never knew what might happen on the Gulf. One day you might see a hammerhead chasing a jet ski. Another you might be awed by a school of leopard rays surfing waves on the beach. Between fishing there was biking the roads and running the beach. Better do those early in the morning, so you wouldn’t die of heat stroke. But, swimming in the warm Gulf? Well, that was for the rest of the day. Just avoid late evening or you might start hearing a loud dinging of a buoy bell. Then an undertone would begin low and ominous: dan-Dah, dan-Dah, dah-dah dah-dah dah-dah Dah-Dah. Oh darn, there goes your leg in the mouth of a Great White.
And then back to Colorado
after Hurricane Ivan tried to kill us. The first two years were bliss, or maybe just post-Hurricane and working-my-ass off depression. But I fished almost daily, learned to tie flies much, much better, became a fly-fishing guide and hiked and ran and biked and camped with my wife and trusted blonde Labrador, Maggie.
All this fishing got me outside on weekends and summer vacations, but it was the running and biking that got me invigorated with nature almost daily. Even now, cruising on the great bike trails in our fair city, I experience summer heat, the smell of a pond with ducks and deer wandering through, musty smelling autumn leaves blowing on the trail, the bone chill of a winter ride in a thirty-five-degree, steel gray winter day, and the glory of spring, the sweet smell of roses, the sound of a rushing stream and the laughter of children in the park on Memorial Day.
Through all these natural highs, I wrote.
And wrote. And wrote some more. Nearly every story and novel include the outdoors, either fly fishing, hiking, biking, or something about saving those beautiful natural wonders for generations to come.
Nature and outdoors infuses me with wonder, joy, and thankfulness of our wonderful Earth.
I hope you will get out and enjoy nature at every opportunity. Teach your children and grandchildren, for they will be the ones to save our planet. And all it takes is a natural high.
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