Yesterday I walked out into the frigid garage, pulled my waders over each leg, and eased my feet into the still damp boots. I long ago became good friends with the notion that my daily habit was viewed as pure insanity by my neighbors. In the wake of that acceptance, I’ve since began to ponder if the insane ones are those who live next to a precious gem like the Deschutes River, and do not seize the daily gift of walking its’ banks and listening to the ever changing song of the currents.
I couldn’t help but be a bit more excited, and nostalgic with the journey yesterday. December 31, 2021 – by heading to the river I’d be logging the final ✅ for the calendar year… 365 days of casting a line into water – and hoping.
The culmination of a year, and a goal, led me to walk a bit more mindfully through the entire trip. And the recent snowfall provided a wonderful visual reminder to cherish the imprints these trips to the river have left on my soul.
The first time I scrambled down the entrance to the GOAT ( greatest of all trails ) Trail was over seven years ago. I had just finished viewing the new house across the street with our realtor and friend Dylan Darling. Being anglers, we were both quite interested in checking out the river access, and we opted to sneak through the neighbors yard to check out the scene.
While the tracks in the snow yesterday were from my boots, deer, and rabbits – I paused to think about Dylan’s footsteps he left on this same path, and on the life of my family. Dylan passed away less then three years after that first hike. I think of him often and marvel at the beauty of life and how people can have a profound imprint on one’s life if you trust and lean into them.
That initial scramble to the top of the trail can be spicy with snow and ice. The subsequent section of the path appears to be more mellow. But I paused yesterday at this section to remind myself of how I left an epic butt-print at this spot during January. Ice has a wonderful way of painfully reminding us that even when life seems to be on cruise control – things can get up-ended pretty dang quick.
Fortunately a sore backside was the only result of that particular fall, but now I use the memory to help me slow down and enjoy this view. Yesterday my steps spooked a bald eagle from a roost overhead, so I paused to watch it fly across the canyon. All those little trip-ups and falls in life leave an imprint as well, whether we learn or change from them is up to us.
Along the river I strolled past many memorable spots. Buckets and riffles I have given names to over the years. Odd pieces of river treasure extracted, and memories made with friends and neighbors. It is easy for me to get wrapped up in thoughts spurred on by these memories, so I decided to stop and admire a few lingering rose hips to get back to the present.
This particular thorny branch has snagged me up on many occasions – almost like it has been reaching out and tapping on my shoulder to whisper “slow down Timmy, there’s beauty right here”. Amazing to think slumbering in those naked branches are beautiful pink flowers, just waiting for the right conditions to shine. Flowers – like all of nature are patiently waiting to leave an imprint on us too, that invitation is there, we just need to show up for the party.
Eventually I arrived at my favorite fishing hole. I did my salutation. I smiled. I stretched my arms wide into the air – so amazing to be alive in that moment. I stomped through some ice along the banks and casted about a dozen times until my line was encased in ice, and I could no longer feel it between my fingers. An empty net, but a full heart.
I opted to walk back up the canyon at Bobbie’s cottage. That little house at the end of the street has been such a big part of my story in 2021. In particular though I thought of that Monday morning back in October where I was triple-booked for zoom meetings.
I made the decision to go to the meeting that was an interview for someone seeking to be a junior/apprentice developer at the company. I had recently inherited the team hosting these positions – I had no idea what I was talking about to be honest, but decided that was the most important meeting for me to be in at that moment.
Unfortunately I don’t recall his name, but what on the surface had all the signs of yet another interview – was actually a pivotal moment in my life. I started the interview with general icebreakers to set the mood right. He shared about his weekend of working multiple odd jobs to pay for his code boot camp.
He then inquired about my weekend – and I responded by saying it was “crazy busy” with doing chores at my house and Bobbie’s place. I probably even said something like I had no free time to just chill. His response was the message that I didn’t realize I needed to hear. “Wow, you are living the dream.”
Later that same day I informed the company that I couldn’t do it anymore. I had a dream right in front of me to live already.
Strangers can leave the biggest imprints on your life if you just listen.
I write these words with much gratitude for those who have made an imprint on me in 2021. Especially Becky – thanks for being there to help me reassemble when I’ve been in pieces… you’ve always been good with puzzles and I reckon that is why you like me still.
This post was also my response to the #bloganuary challenge that my friends at WordPress.com are running this month. So I’m going to try and do another month-long blogging sprint. Today’s prompt was: “What advice would you give to your teenage self?”.
So this entry is also very much for my teen Kaydee, and soon-to-be-teen Teagan. Everything in life makes an imprint on you. Some are happy, some will leave you wanting more of the same – unfortunately as you have learned too often in the past 2 years… many will hurt and leave you confused.
They all are good though. Be open to them. Try not to react in haste and just observe. Life, like your weird dad, is a puzzle – find people that love you and are willing to help you figure it out and keep them close and love them fiercely. I hope to keep on imprinting that value on you as long as I’m here, and hope my words here help with that too.