The road that leads to water
Water. It seems, especially here in the state of Colorado, that water is always a topic of discussion. Who owns it? Who can use it? How much will it cost? Do we have enough of it? Too much water causes flooding; so what can we do to stop the water from causing damage? Too little water causes drought; so how do we stockpile more of it? Water, especially in this state, always seems to be a vicious cycle. And there are the issues of consumption. As a former massage therapist I used to preach to people the importance of drinking enough water, while at the same time preaching, especially to my daughter, the importance of being a good conservationist and NOT taking a 45 minute shower. And if you are a fellow sportsman I don’t have to tell you the importance of water. The fish live in it, the waterfowl live on it, and the big and small game animals drink from it. Where ever there is water, there is wildlife. And where ever there is wildlife, there are sportsmen just like me. As a sportsman, I have spent a lifetime in, on and around water. The older I get though, the more I realize that water has always been something more to me. Water is a source of peace.
As a child I was always fascinated with water. As every child does, I would spend hours looking into a stream or lake and become fascinated with the things that I found. From rocks to fish, trash to treasures, the water always held something magical. I think I first began to realize the true bond that I had with water when I was a college student in Fort Morgan. I was introduced early on to an old, arch bridge on the north side of town that spans the South Platte River, known as the Rainbow Bridge. During my time in Fort Morgan, the bridge became a place of romance and more often than not a place to go when the romance was over.
A handful of broken relationships brought with them the heartache that follows. That heartache helped prepare me for the greatest loss I would have to face up to that point in my life; the death of my father. I often found the old bridge to be a place to go for solace and comfort when I missed him. Many was the night that I would I make a midnight rendezvous to the bridge. Alone, I would wander out on the bridge, stand at the rail for what seemed like hours, and watch the midnight moonlight dance and shimmer across the slow moving water of the river below me. And it was there that the water first brought me peace.
As time went on I found myself gazing at the water more and more often. Whether staring into the water from a dock, searching through the gently swaying plants and trying to find the bottom; or listening to the gurgles and splashes of a quickly flowing stream, the water always brought me peace.
Today, I am never more relaxed than when I’m standing hip deep in a stream, eyeing the perfect bit of water to cast to, in an attempt to lure a German Brown trout from its hiding place. For it is there, in the water that I find peace. I am never more relaxed than when I am sitting in a folding chair on the shore of a lake, reading a good book, listening to the waves lap the shoreline while I keep a lazy eye on the tip of my fishing rod. For it is there, by the waters edge, that I find peace. I am never more relaxed than when I am sitting in a hunting blind on the edge of a river or pond, trying desperately to stay warm, and waiting for the thrill of seeing a group of ducks or flock of geese set their wings to land on the water. For it is there, next to the water, that I find peace.
The back yard of my home in Thornton over looks Grange Creek. On an average day, the creek is about 3 feet across and 6 inches deep at best. On most days I take for granted the view that I have here in the city because the creek is so small I hardly notice it’s there. But there are mornings that I walk out on my deck with a hot cup of coffee and see a small group of mallards land on the creek below; and it is there that I find peace. After a heavy rain or melting from a heavy snow, the creek rises and often spans 30 feet across, and there is no ignoring it then. The water flows swift and hard and commands my attention. Many times I have stood at my fence and watched as a muskrat eats along the bank or plays in the quick flowing water; and it is there that I find peace.
My dog Bailey and I often walk the path behind my house. We walk to the west, along the creek to two new ponds on the west side of the Thornton Municipal Park. While I walk the path, Bailey combs the shore line sniffing the different smells. Upon occasion Bailey will find the courage to wade belly deep into the water. Never too deep, and never for too long, but for a brief moment he stands in the water before he turns and runs back to me with a look on his face as though he, too, has found something magical.
We continue on and I look at the occasional duck or turtle and know that come winter, the ponds will be full of ducks and Canada geese. During every walk I stand on a bridge between the two ponds, and stare into the water below, looking deeper and deeper, until the rocks become only shadows and the bottom can’t be seen.
It is there, as I stare deeper and deeper into the water, that I find peace; I find calm; and often times I feel God’s presence.
The poet Robert Frost once wrote:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
As for me, when I come to those crossroads in my life, I will always take the road that leads to water.
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