Time melts when you are wading a trout stream.

Einstein defined the behavior of time, space, and matter; but he failed to take into account this phenomenon that is known mostly to those of us who, contrary to any logic or sense of reason, arise in the gloaming of pre-dawn, and spend most of our free time wading in cold, turbulent waters, seeking contact with small wild trout and their environment; and in the end, losing track of whether we are trying to catch a fish, or trying to capture and absorb the whole perfect cosmos that is encapsulated in a stream where wild trout thrive.

I like to fish streams that are far enough back in the mountains so that you have to decompress and adapt to the surroundings along the way before you get there. Shed our world, and enter another. A riot of chlorophyll, water, rock, and life. Slow down your pace to match everything around you.

Twelve miles of single-track gravel. Seems like a lot. But, after awhile, you quit thinking like a human and begin to notice. You notice through the raindrops on your windshield that the rosebay rhododendrons are in full bloom, almost tunneling the little track that you are driving on.




You notice the bones of the earth-the blocky, tortured, fractured rock of the Anakeeesta formation, everywhere dripping, seeping, and spurting pure, clean water.




After awhile, you arrive at the stream. You put on your wading boots, rig your rod, and step in; sucking in your breath at that first contact with the icy water that surrounds your legs and pours into your boots. You study the creek as the first rays of sunlight burn through the morning mist. Your eyes seek a rising fish, a chughole behind a rock, or a swirling eddy where a trout may lie, waiting for food to be carried down by the never-ending current.




Your first few casts are awkward. Your boots slide on the slippery rocks in the streambed. Your timing is off. Your backcasts as often as not encounter a low-hanging limb. Your mends are off, and your fly isn't matching the speed of the current. You miss the first couple strikes, too absorbed with being yourself to yield to the elements you are immersed in. You aren't there yet. You aren't quite feeling the rhythm of your surroundings.
Gradually, you work into it. You slow down. You quit thinking consciously. It starts feeling right. Everything grows more fluid. Timing. Being. Adjusting.

And, suddenly, your fly is floating exactly with the speed of the current. The timing of your casts is right. And, when part of the water in the stream suddenly becomes a trout rising to your fly, you react without thinking, instinctively. Because you were expecting it. You knew it was about to happen, right there, and right then. You made it happen unconsciously. You are now connected to a part of the stream by a current of energy that runs from the trout, up the line, and through your arm. You bring it to the net, admire it, and release it.




Now, you start to enter The Zone. Nothing else exists, just you, the stream, the trout, and the forest around you. This is why you go this far into the woods to fish, so that you aren't bothered by other people, other thoughts, other things. Everything that matters is here and now.

More trout come to hand. You don't count, because it doesn't matter. You are tuned in. You are part of all that surrounds you. You can almost feel the energy transfer of the giant trees above you eating sunlight: converting solar energy, the carbon dioxide that you are exhaling, and water into carbohydrates, sugars, and the oxygen that you are inhaling. Mycorrhiza connect the roots of one tree to another, sharing water, nutrients, life. Mushrooms sprout from the mycelium. Some of the mycelium that share life between trees also creep into the heartwood of the giant trees, sucking life and rotting their hearts. Shrubs, ferns, forbs, and mosses sprout in the spaces between the tree trunks. Caterpillars munch leaves. Parasitic wasps lay eggs on the caterpillars. Birds swoop down and eat the parasitic wasps. Some caterpillars live and pupate, Butterflies flutter by. A kingfisher dips its bill into the creek and comes out with a fingerling trout. A mayfly hatches and floats until its wings harden, then flutters away, and will soon return to layits eggs in the surface film of the stream, where they will hatch into nymphs, which will cling to rocks and hide from the trout. Another mayfly is eaten by a trout before it has the chance to fly. And on and on. At the heart of it all is magic water, and you are standing knee-deep in it. It's all connected.

In this state of mind, nothing exists outside of where you are.

Time melts.

When you look down and see a snake beside your foot, you aren't startled. You give it room and try to keep from bothering it as it does what it is doing.




When an errant cast lands your fly in a rhododendron limb, instead of cussing, you admire the blooms on it.




And, when lightening flashes, thunder rolls, and the sky opens, you make your way back to your truck for shelter. It isn't a bad thing. Because you are in the state of mind that realizes that this is the reason for the breathing trees, the water pouring from rocks that creates the stream that you are standing in and the trout that live in it. The base cause of the magic.




As you wait out the storm, you tune the satellite radio in your truck to the bluegrass channel. Because anything else besides the haunting minor-key vocals and plaintive acoustic instruments would be sacrilege here.

After awhile, the rain stops, and the sun comes out, peeking here and there through banks of clouds. Foggy mist rises from the ground and the water as the sun touches them. You fish more. The trout are hitting even better after the storm as the creek has risen and taken on a bit of color.