Monday, February 20, 2017

Home Waters: South Tyger River

As you read the entries in this blog, you will notice that a recurring theme in my writing is water-- particularly rivers.

I have fished for trout in the most pristine waters of the Blue Ridge, and fished for striped bass and largemouth in some of the best known impoundments in the southeast. I have paddled the black water swamps and fished tidal creeks along the coast. But no matter where I go, no matter what body of water I find myself on, in my subconscious mind, I'm somewhere in the South Tyger watershed.  The namesake of this blog, Wildcat Creek, flows into it. It was on these waters that I found my place in the outdoors.

A river is often used as a metaphor for life, and I understand why. It is hard for me to be in or around moving water and not wax poetic. In fact, I have written poems about rivers, and when I dream, it is often about rivers. I had a man tell me one time that if for some reason he can't get out on the river and paddle his kayak, he'll just sit on the toilet and flush it,  so that he can feel the water moving underneath him.

In A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean says, "I am haunted by waters." I personally find that statement to be true in my life. Waters haunt me. Rivers haunt me. As the waters flow, so does the passage of time.

The South Tyger is no Blackfoot, but my memory takes me back there time and time again. Memories of my Dad taking me fishing on the river there. My brother and I bushwhacking our way through the swamp and wading out waist deep to fish for bass that nobody else on earth was crazy enough to go after. My son's first bass, a five pounder he caught on a Spiderman rod and reel in Lake Robinson.

I have watched the water rise and fall, open water turn into land. I have seen houses spring up all around Lake Robinson and Cunningham, turning it into a suburbia. The photo with this post was taken from J. Verne Smith Park, at Lake Robinson dam, and today when I took it, the place was crawling with people from all walks of life. There was more boats than I thought I would ever see on that lake. But amidst all of that, there was the waters, and beyond it, the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This is my home water.

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