Yesterday, I had the opportunity to fish Rock Creek near Rockland, Idaho. When I first started fly-fishing in the 90’s, you could expect to catch 20 to 30 fish in an afternoon from this special stream. Upon arrival, however, I could instantly tell that things had changed. My stream had become severely degraded and the guilty culprits were cattle, fourwheelers and people. They were all loving Rock Creek to death, but I will save this rant for another time.
I stayed for old times sake and, over the course of about two hours, I caught five or six fish in a mile long stretch of river. I greatly appreciated each fish and saluted them for their hardiness as they swam away unharmed. Since the fishing was slow, I had a lot of time to reflect on my life.
Last November, just before Thanksgiving, my lower back went from bad to worse during a late season grouse hunt. I woke up the next day with a numb right leg. I instantly knew something was not right! I called my dad, the M.D., and he instantly suspected that I had a ruptured disc in my back. My hunting season was put to an immediate, early end.
The months that followed were some of the most difficult, dark months that I have ever experienced. I could hardly walk, sit or lie down. I wasn’t comfortable in any position. In an effort to avoid surgery, I wore an awkward back cast for over eight weeks. When that did not work, I had some injections in my spine. They helped some, but not like I had hoped. I questioned whether I would ever feel better or be able to do the things I love in the outdoors again. In desparation, I opted to have back surgery, which happened on March 25, 2008.
Me after Surgery: Broken but not defeated
Long story short, I now feel great and I have been able to hike, wade and fish a lot this Summer (albeit more carefully). I can’t wait until bird hunting season! I learned something very important from this experience. A wise man once asked: “Are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon that same Being, even God, for all the subtance which we have?. . . ” This hard, painful experience definitely helped me to realize how dependent I am upon my Heavenly Father.
Yesterday, while fishing this struggling stream, as I reflected on this trial, I couldn’t help but rejoice on being able to fish again! For this lowly beggar, each day spent on a river, every fish caught and released, each day afield with my dogs, every bird harvested (or missed), every vibrant sunrise and sunset, is a gift. They are all “crumbs which fall from the Master’s table.” I cherish them more so now than ever.
The sweet spot at sunset.
Sunny Girl: Big heart with hair
My favorite hunting buddy and fellow Grouseketeer, Tommy.
All crumbs from the Master’s table.