I'm on the long side of three score and five, and I've witnessed
more than my fair share of the good things that life under the sun
has to offer. That's not to say my life has not had its share of grief,
and there are things that I wish I could change, but on the whole
I have enjoyed a very blessed life.
By Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
Recently I was standing waist deep in the Yellowstone River just
east of my home here in Montana. Upstream was my nephew,
eight years my junior, and a fine angler, outfitter, fly tyer, and
writer. When he was younger he followed me around like a
puppy, and in the pendency of time I showed him the basics of
fly fishing and fly tying. In those days I took him where I went,
showed him the wonderful world of trout fishing with flies; now
we float in his boat and he takes me with him on adventures that
I started with him all those many years ago.
On this warm September day the mountains are capped with
a fresh blanket of new snow, but the autumn sun is warm on my
shoulders. Trout are rising to a mixed bag of terrestrials, mayflies,
and an occasional caddis. It is a perfect day in a perfect place,
and I am blessed to be here.
Downstream a white-tailed doe and fawn walk to the edge of the stream,
take a drink, and then wade out into the current and swim quickly to the
opposite shore. With a little shake they rid themselves of the water clinging
to their coats, and disappear into the streamside willows. I take it in and
burn the image into my memory to recall at a later time. I am blessed to
have seen it.
As the shadows lengthen, the mountains glow with radiance that fills
the valley, and although it is a sight I have seen many times I never
grow tired of seeing it. Outlined by billowing cumulus clouds the
glowing mountains and deepening shadows present a vista that stirs my soul.
I am reminded that there are those who have never witnessed these
sights. They have never stood in a trout stream, never witnessed a
deer and a fawn, never experienced the glow of the mountains at
unset, or smelled the sweet smell of new mown hay wafting on a
warm late summer breeze. I have two eyes that are still able to see
a size 18 fly without the aid of glasses, my reflexes are still sharp enough
to set the hook before a trout can detect the fraud, my ears can still hear
the faint sound of a distant raven calling as it rides the thermals, and my
nose can detect the sweet smell of the cottonwoods.
I've had many good friends. Some I have lost to the mists of time, but
their friendship enriched my life and their memory brings warm feelings
when their names cross my mind. There are other friends who are separated
from me by time and distance, but their friendship is as special today as it was
in days of yore.
I was blessed with the love of a special woman for over 45 years of
my life. I have a great daughter and son-in-law, and more than a lifetime
of memories of all the good things we all shared.
I have been blessed with a love of the outdoors, and I have been
blessed to have seen much of God's great creation. I've stood in a
mountain meadow at midnight and gazed upward at the heavens
above where the stars seemed so close that you could touch them.
I've seen mountain lakes with water so pure it seemed to be transparent,
and stood at the top of a mountain where I felt that if I extended my hand
I could touch the face of God.
I have been blessed to experience another Montana summer,
but the snow on the top of the Absarokas marks the end of
another summer. Now my thoughts turn to the warm weather
of southeastern Arizona, and although the love of my life is no
longer here to share it with me I have been blessed to have
shared it with her for a short time.
I hope you will understand if I am absent from this weekly slot
for the next few weeks as I take some time to evaluate where I
am and where I am going. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
I have truly been blessed. ~ The Chronicler
From A Journal Archives