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Falling

Standing midstream, I peer down at the rocky bottom through strands of broken light, calculating my next step across the slick stones toward a deep run of swift water in the bend flowing around a gravel bar downstream. A six foot length of stranded log, at knee-height, is obstructing my path, so I choose my route accordingly, navigating my way through water barely shin-deep.  The juxtaposition of light and shadow, early morning sun beaming through the trees, glinting off water and stone alike, and the dark pockets where current seams merge, gives a false sense of assuredness of a path laid out before me. Allowing my feet to feel their way as they carry me along, I take my eyes off the bottom for a moment and examine the edge of the run, just as I reach the head of the captured log.  Before I have the chance to retrain my line of sight to the riverbed beneath my soles, my foot finds no hold on an oblong stone, sloped just enough to let my shoe slide the length of it, and bot
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Love Letter

I wake this morning, to find your scent still lingering on my skin. With sleep in my eyes, I try to shake the heady buzz from the hours of being entwined with you the day before. I feel your residual energy flowing all around me. I step into the shower just to feel the rivulets of water wash over my body. You are all I can think about this morning, and I know that I will not find peace until I return to your side. I am completely, utterly, and desperately obsessed with you. When I look upon you, I am captivated. I am enamored by your beauty, by your natural sensuous movements. I follow every curve, trace all of your soft edges with my eyes, immerse myself in the rise and fall of your breath. You whisper mysteries known only to the deepest parts of my consciousness, and the narrative you speak to my heart is as old as the earth. I have watched you suffer mistreatment at the hands of so many before. You have been taken advantage of, used and abused, stripped of your purity. I

It Comes and It Goes

I finished the last of my coffee and read through some notes on scraps of paper in a shoebox by my chair. These scraps of paper I would empty out of my pockets when I got home from work most days. On these scraps of paper, I would jot down notes; sometimes single words that I would snatch out of the air to use at a later time, poems, entire stories, notes to people that I never intended to share with them.  Someday, I hope to either put some of these odds and ends together, or add them to a burn pile just so I can fill the box again. I read through things like this when I can't bring myself to write. Sometimes it helps to clear the fog, to lift my mood. Sometimes not. It comes and it goes. After a couple of hours moping around in a melancholic fog, I decide I need to get out of the house. It was 40 degrees and overcast, not the conditions I normally consider good fishing weather, but I could care less. It had been so long, I wasn't sure of what condition my fly boxe

Winter Awakening

This morning a thick frost covers the ground, and wild geese echo through the hollow with a resounding cadence, ushering in daylight and what warmth it will bring with it as they spiral downward into the slough among the standing dead of flooded timber. Up on higher ground, robins and warblers and sparrows fuss and scratch in the leaf litter beneath the beeches, red cedars, and buckthorns. A bright male cardinal scales the branches of a holly tree, plucking selectively the bright red fruit that nearly matches the bird's own scarlet plumage. High in the top of a white oak on the hillside, a pair of gray squirrels chase and tumble up and down limbs and tree trunks, launching their weightless bodies from tree to tree, running a maze of intertwined branches, until another one joins in, and yet another. Alas, the struggle ends in a deadlock, and each returns to their business, digging in the deep leaves on the side of the hill and grinding teeth on the steel hulls of hickory

Avoidance

This morning I wake to the sound of birds outside the window. When the alarm went off at 5:30, I shut it off and rolled over, remembering this will be the last day I'll get to sleep in for a while. I had plans to get up and try to get some things done before my extended time off from work expired. But then, when have I ever managed my time well? So at 8 AM, I eased out of bed and got the coffee started, while looking out at the creek through the kitchen window to see if the water had cleared up any since the hard rain muddied it two days ago. The weather is mild today for January, and I would really like to try out a few new bass flies I tied this week when I should've been getting my punch list taken care of, checking off things left undone due to conflicts with my work schedule and family matters. When the coffee finished, I took out my journal, and filled a few pages with random thoughts, most incomplete and some downright nonsensical, until I had nothing else to

A Fisherman Remembers Jocassee Valley

In my search for information on the history and tradition of fly fishing for trout in the mountains of South Carolina, I was extremely fortunate to have made the acquaintance of a true all-around outdoorsman and native son of the Appalachians, Dr. Thomas Cloer.  Our correspondence so far has been by telephone only, but I hope that once this current health crisis dies down, we can get together in person. When I first contacted Mr. Cloer, I didn't know what to expect. Why would he be interested in anything I had to say? But I was pleasantly surprised when he returned my call. Within the first moments of our conversation, I felt as if I had known him forever. Maybe it was the kinship felt between two fly fishermen, or perhaps it was his kind voice, warm and familiar, a voice steeped in the tradition and language of the Southern Appalachians. "Joshua, I would be more than happy to talk to you about fly fishing." Dr. Thomas Cloer is Professor Emeritus of Furman Univers

Book Review: The Southern Wildlife Watcher

For many years, I have been a devoted reader of South Carolina Wildlife . I have spent countless hours, pouring over each issue with a thirst for knowledge of all things outdoors. I was captivated with the natural world at a very young age, and that passion was fueled by the beautiful photography and impeccable writing found in the pages of my favorite magazine. One of my favorite on-going columns in South Carolina Wildlife  is one called For Wildlife Watchers , by Rob Simbeck.  From the first time I read one of Simbeck's essays, I was hooked. It was some of the most compelling nature writing that I had read up to that point. What impressed me was the writer's ability to draw the reader into the story, and then present the facts in a way that is both informative and highly entertaining. Rob has a way of giving life to his characters (in this case, birds, reptiles, mammals, fish, and insects) that a reader can easily relate to.  Now, I am pleased to announce, that Ro