Sometimes I close my eyes, breathe in, and I can smell home. That familiar smell that's comforting and welcoming, the kind of memory smell that can change your mood. It's the smell of warm pine, honeysuckle, and crisp water. Whenever you return after a long trip it smells better than you remembered it. You feel welcomed back.
The smell hits you first. The sounds come second. The fast gurgling of water, the soft whispers of mayfly's, the birds calling to each other from across the valley. You're comfortable because you've returned home, but the anticipation in your gut bubbles over.
Every step down the trail is a new adventure, no matter how many times you've traveled this same path before. You can peer over the ridge line and still be taken aback by the beauty that's in front of you. It's almost like seeing a Jackson Pollock or Caravaggio for the first time, but it's not your first time. You're staring out over your mountains, your valleys, your river.
The goat path to slide down has no marker, no indication that this is the spot, but you know it is. You know the rock that's next to it, you've seen it many times before. The slide down isn't exactly safe, but you've done it so many times you know how to hold your rod and where to position your feet. You know to stop before you get too close to the hole, because you've met the 14-inch brook trout that's hiding out in the big eddy. Sitting on your heels you admire the beauty all around you, searching out the bright orange fins that are right below. The ant piles around your feet grab your attention and you maneuver your rod ever so gently to switch your Adams pattern to an ant.
You sit and wait a while longer, noticing that the wildlife has changed just since last week.
And suddenly, you see it. That bright orange flash you've been waiting for, followed by an even more exhilarating slurp.
You hook up on this brook trout, the one you know so well, the one you've caught countless times before, but this time is still just as good as the first. Your dance is quick, you know it's summer, you already know every move this fish is going to make. The release is quick and painless. You move on upstream, meeting some fish you've known for years and others you've never seen before.
You spend your day among the laurels and random pine trees in the distance. The ant pattern doesn't fail you all day, until your meet the brown that destroys it. It finds a place on your hat, a reminder of a day well spent.
Walking out on the same path you came in on, hours before, the sun is in a different place over the ridge. The colors have changed since this morning. The cool blues have been replaced with warm oranges, reds, and purples. Your artwork has changed once again.
Driving out over the parkway you feel a sense of pride in your home. You close your eyes and breathe in. The smell is still fresh on your clothes and deeper embedded in your mind. You hope that when you return on a week, month, or maybe more it's exactly as you left it.
Because this land is your home.
Jacob is a fly fishing guide with a passion for conservation and brook trout. He is an accomplished rod builder and restorationist.
Jillian is an outdoor photographer and blogger, using her voice for Public Lands and Cold Water Conservation. She specializes in trying to out fish jacob whenever she puts the camera down.