Shadow chased sunshine across the river and into the facing trees at a pace that defied understanding. Stone flies darted through air dappled with magic and tinted with sage, and the afternoon’s glow passed quickly in the deepening shadow of the Rockies.

The Boy whipped a nine-foot wand overhead and floated an orange cobweb to the far edge of Pacific Creek. Ahead of it, a tuft of hair and a gleam of hook lit upon the seam that split fast water from slow. With a flick of the wrist he mended once, then again, keeping the line behind the fly as both drifted down, bowing in small ceremony to the first of countless subtleties of a game intentionally made harder than it has to be.

The Boy stood on rocks cracked free of the mountains’ face by winters’ freezings, now tumbled round and smooth by thawed passings of the same. He cast into water making its way from snow to sea, unchecked, unspoiled. He tempted fish born of a genetic line native to the area, never stocked, always wild.

Nature’s lessons go only so far for those who but stand and look. A fuller understanding comes only through fuller participation, and participating by the most sincere imitation of nature’s means may communicate the fullest understanding of all. In making the greatest effort to place the smallest fly, perchance to fool, if only for a moment, the most discriminating eye, we can see behind nature’s curtain and comprehend, if only for those moments, our part in nature’s perfection.

Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media for Mossy Oak in West Point.

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