On the Water

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As the sun’s rays shined down in the early hours of dawn, the top of the water glistened. It was as if it held a million tiny mirrors just within a stone’s throw. The waves gently slapped the stern-side of our boat like nature’s metronome. My god, how I’ve missed that.

We had not been on the water all summer. Between starting a new job, moving, unpacking, and other miscellaneous circumstances, the timing had not been right. The desire, however, was unyielding. A yearning to be there was taking forefront. It was becoming an obsession.

The water calls to me year-round. I respect the life-giving resource it provides. I also respect the life-taking potential it possesses. Throughout my life, I have had an affection for water. Whether it be small streams or the ocean, I love the tingling of all senses when in, on, or near water. It’s transformative properties, though well-studied, are enchanting when looked at by the eye of an outdoors enthusiast.

Audrey and Tyler were noticeably quiet. I believe, they like I, were absorbing the tranquility of our serene surroundings. I don’t believe anyone could have been in a more ideal place at that moment in time. Much planning and preparation were now being rewarded for the effort. They each contributed to helping me fulfill this desire. As the bow of our vessel split the water before us, I secretly hoped they were enjoying the moment.

Looking into where the water was calm, I saw a reflection. The young boy with endless dreams and an uncertain future was not there. Instead, a much older person was looking back at me. The water did well to hide the wrinkles around his eyes. The water did well to expose his smile.

It was a beautiful day to be on the water.

Wildfire

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Desultory waves of wind sweep over the golden blades of grass causing it to vacillate. As temperatures continue to soar, the aridity present in the summertime air is palpable. The pungent aroma of smoke is subtle, yet still detectable without much discern. The degree of haziness is dependent on the day and prevailing winds. The valley we call home has, so far, been spared. The areas in contiguous regions, unfortunately, have not been as fortunate. Wildfire is a powerful and deadly adversary.

A heartfelt thank you to the women and men who put themselves in harm’s way fighting wildfires.

Next Chapter

Plains

I have taken a hiatus from writing the past few weeks. A change of scenery and everything that entails has consumed a majority of my time and energy. My commitment to the keyboard was yearning, yet, my commitment to getting settled in the Clark Fork Valley in Western Montana took precedent. My concentration focused on getting moved in and unpacked. I offer apologies to all of those who follow and faithfully read my posts. Thank you for your patience during this transition.

For one who likes change and diversity, I must admit that moving never gets easier. In fact, each new move has become increasingly more difficult. In addition to the accumulation of material things gathered over time, I have also added friendships and memories. It is becoming more difficult to move away from those relationships. Those bonds exceed the confines of cardboard boxes. They consume valuable space in my heart and mind. Yet, optimism gives me the comfort of knowing more friendships and memories will be forged in a new and fresh environment.

The stress brought forth by moving can often take a toll on familial relationships. Thank the good Lord for blessing me with an understanding and compassionate wife.  Words hardly describe my appreciation of Audrey’s full-hearted commitment to uprooting our lives and starting anew. Without her support and effort, I would certainly be lost in the wilderness.

The mountains surrounding my new location are rugged, yet, inviting. The countless nearby waterways and trails offer infinite opportunities to explore and investigate. Nearly every conversation I’ve had with locals ends with a desire to see what they have described or experienced. Positive thoughts overwhelm the stress of re-establishing a home base. I wonder how I will ever prioritize the time to do everything I want to do?

New surroundings come with new responsibilities. This profound thought is not lost on me. I want to do well. I want to live well. New relationships and memories will be added to my interpersonal collection. They are not in place of, but rather, in addition to those already there. The next chapter offers an opportunity to do good things. I hope to leave a mark that suggests it was always meant to be.

Summer

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The season’s arrival comes with fury and might as the sun’s torrid rays strike Earth’s surface. Summer is a welcome respite to the often-frigid temperatures of spring. Daylight hours are noticeably longer as the axis of our planet tilts toward the sun.

Once-swelled rivers and streams slowly begin to recede back into their natural embankments. The water that constitutes their makeup becomes more clear and translucent. The fish that habitat these waters search for deeper holes and cooler conditions. Growing populations of insects and aquatic organisms provide delectable treats for fish both in and on the water.

Warmer and longer days are a catalyst for many processes. A multitude of flora and fauna peak in their maturation processes during the summer months. Much of what humans consume is grown during the summer solstice.

The vast expanse of azure skies in summer are only interrupted by a wide variety of cloud formations. Most days start off cool. The temperature gradually increases until peaking in the mid-afternoon to early evening. Thunderstorms produced by summer’s warm air are often violent and forceful. This is regularly observed in higher elevations. When hiking or climbing, one should scale and descend mountain peaks early in the day. Recreational enthusiasts do not want to get caught in one of these notorious high country thunderstorms. Lightening strikes and hypothermia are real possibilities and potentially life-threatening.

Warmer temperatures and longer days afford ample opportunities to recreate outdoors. Water sports and other outdoor recreational activities are popular this time of year. A visit to higher elevations usually means lower temperatures and a chance to partake in a welcomed commodity…shade! It is advisable to drink copious amounts of liquids during summertime. Dehydration is a serious health threat. The rays of the sun impose a dichotomy of benefit and danger. Do not forget to use sunscreen and moisturizers when going outdoors. Your skin will thank you.

Enjoy the blessings of the season. Bask in the summer sun. Venture out and live unencumbered. Summer is a great time of year to explore and experience the wild.

Independence Day

4th

In honor of our country’s Independence Day, July 4, 2017, I decided to write about the political turmoil that looms over our country each and every day. Please be assured, this post is not intended to start or stir a debate. It is meant to appeal to everyone-no matter which political party (if any) they support. I earnestly ask for your compassion, grace, and good-nature while reading and comprehending that which follows:

I am careful to not get involved in political discussions, unless forcibly engaged. These types of conversations often become too argumentative and overemotional. Like most people, I often read postings on social websites and hear conversations aimed at the political arena that are intended to be more hurtful than informative. Unfortunately, friendships and families are suffering over differences in political opinions.

Mass media does little to extinguish the flames and often embellishes the truth with the hope of increasing viewership and raising ratings. Mass media has become ultra-proficient at manipulating public opinion. We are often oblivious to their subjugated ways due to our insatiable thirst for more knowledge and information. Mass media sources perpetuate by inciting controversy. The daily discourse they dispense is solely intended to sway opinions and leave their audiences hungering for more.

With everything going on in the world, I wonder at what point did we got sidetracked from what is really most important to us? When did respect and understanding evolve to hate and intolerance? Basic human nature, common sense, and history should be enough to push us toward wanting to exhibit compassion and understanding. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not advocating for blindly following and believing the opinions and ways of all others. Sticking our heads in the sand and blindly ignore what is going on around us is not advisable, either. I am stressing the importance of implementing empathy and tolerance.

We have the unalienable right to observe, interpret, and formulate our own opinions. We should use caution when expressing ourselves. Using opinions to judge or accuse others may create a divisiveness that is too large to ever rectify. Sometimes, our opinions are built on falsehood and misinformation. We are often too quick to express judgment without knowing all of the facts and details. Put simply, sometimes we are wrong.

Many are voicing their opinions in public forums. While others are interpreting what is being said as rhetoric. Either way, respect should be reciprocal no matter where one falls on the side of argument. A silent protest is just as formidable as a resounding one. We can demonstrate intelligence and passion by expressing our opinions without purposefully attacking and/or hurting one another. There is a high probability that what we choose to say or do will have a minimal effect in swaying the opinions or practices of others. They have as much right to their opinions as we do to ours.

An expression of individualism is a freedom. I do not believe our country’s forefathers envisioned the freedom of individualized citizens would be used to tear our country apart from within. I strongly believe the authors of the Declaration of Independence wanted freedom to unite people through a common belief. We are (and have always been) at our best when standing together; united as one.

Have a happy and safe Independence Day!

Reflections of the Past

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Once in a while, when the complexities of life slow in pace, I reminisce. My thoughts wander back to when I was a young boy. Back then, a future life seemed only imaginary. Potential goals were countless in number. The inevitable future was exciting to ponder. I wanted my distant future to be known with certainty. Reality chose, otherwise. The excitement brought forth by the unknown was unparalleled and, to be honest, a little scary.

Like most children, I was interested in living adventurously and exploring a myriad of unknown possibilities. Living mostly sheltered from the harsh realities of the world, I was aware it was not a perfect place. The world we lived in back then (as it is now) was filled with “adult problems”. At the time, what I thought about them did not seem to matter. I was generally oblivious to concerns unrelated to my proximity. My world was a much smaller and simpler place. After looking back, I wonder if maturity is forced or does it come naturally to us?

My memories are filled with infinite detail and it seems daunting to fully describe them.

My heart feels like it is sinking when I remember the times I hurt others (whether intentionally or not). I have regrets. There is so much more I should have done to help others. I wish I would have done more to overcome my apathetic ways. Looking back now, I wish I would have given more and showed more interest in lives of others. I was often selfish and self-serving. For those I ever neglected or hurt, I am truly sorry.

My spirits rise whenever I remember the times I was immersed in utter happiness. I certainly had no concept such times were not everlasting. I wish I would have appreciated them more at the time. It never occurred to me the moments would be so fleeting. My memories of these experiences now has to suffice. The images of laughter and love come to me in unexpected bursts. For those with whom I ever shared those precious moments, I want to say thank you.

Like leaves wavering on a tree’s limbs when a gentle breeze passes by, all things related have a certain synchronicity. One force influences another. The passage of light through the oscillating foliage causes both shadow and brightness. The two contrasts move in a chaotic and rhythmic dance. Like the leaves, so is the way of my life. The symbiosis of relationships is paramount.