Where Is Home?
I grew up on a small dairy farm in upstate New York where
we milked a large herd of cows twice a-day every day of the
week. When I was about thirteen years old we moved away
o the suburbs of Detroit where I finished my education, meet
and married my wife, and began a family. I always harbored
the hope that I would return to my 'home' in New York, and
I even tried for a brief time after I was married. I discovered
the truth of that old adage, 'you can never go home again.'
By Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
Once you have left 'home' you can never truly return. Moving
away from your childhood home, whether a joyful, sorrowful,
or mixed experience is a defining moment in anyone's life. After
that, you can never recapture the feeling you had as a youth or
even as a middle-aged person.
When you return to the place you once called home, thanks to
the passage of time, it's probably not going to carry the same
connotations as it once might have. The changing of your
hometown, the gradual growing apart of old friends, all signify
that fact that the home you once knew is now, for all intents
and purposes, gone.
The same thing can be said for your 'home water.' Over my six
plus decades of walking around on the surface of this third rock
from the sun I have called many pieces of water home. For over
10 years the Au Sable River in Michigan's Jack Pine country was
my home water. First it was the Mason Tract water on the South
Branch where I really first cut my teeth on fly fishing for trout. It
was on the South Branch at the old Canoe Harbor campground
that I first met JC, and we struck up a friendship that has endured
for all these many years. The lessons that I learned on the South
Branch have remained with me although it has been a half a life time
since I last fished its tannin colored waters.
From the South Branch I transferred my affections to the Main Stream
somewhere between Keystone Landing and Wakeley Bridge. From the
Hendrickson hatch in April until the last Trico's and Pseudocleons in
September I haunted that water like a specter. The memories of nights
that I sat on a log in Green Cabin Pool waiting for the hatch to begin
still wash over me like a warm blanket on a cold night. It was here I
met the Ladyfisher, and witnessed her marriage to JC. I fished with
Vince Marinaro, swapped patterns and information with Carl Richards,
and met a plethora of other anglers whose impact on my life still resonates
to this day.
For the last 34+ years I have called the waters around Livingston, Montana
as my home waters. From the spring creeks in Paradise Valley to the
freestone waters of the Yellowstone and the Madison River my horizons
have broadened to include them all. I have added lakes, reservoirs and
tail waters to my repertoire of favorite places, but somewhere in the back
of my mind those tannin colored waters flowing through the Jack Pines
and sand barrens of Michigan's Lower Peninsula will always be home
water for me.
I have not been back there in more than two decades, and it is unlikely
that I will ever ply those waters again for I know that one can never go
home again. The Au Sable that I moved away from all those years ago
is no longer the Au Sable that I knew. It has changed and so have I, but
in my minds eye it has never changed.
This stream was an integral part of my life for many years, and its
contribution to my mental 'sanity' during those years is beyond measure.
The stream, and those that I shared it with, is a part of my life that has
long since slipped into the distant past. Regrettably, I don't believe I
will see the likes of them again.
I've not been back, nor will I go,
To places that I used to know.
To sparkling brook or wooded hill,
Treasured places, treasured still.
It would not do me good to know,
That Father Time has changed them so.
For now within mind's eye I see,
Those places that were dear to me.
Places where I stopped to play,
To wile away a summers day.
In meadow green or forest deep,
These places in kind memory sleep.
For sheltered there from prying eyes,
[Original poem by the author] ~ Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
The past grows old but never dies.
From A Journal Archives