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This is Where I Belong

Story ID:7122
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
Year:2011
Person:Me
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This is Where I Belong

This is Where I Belong

I sat on the ground, leaned against a tree trunk and watched my bobber float on
the glassy surface of the water. The fishing was slow. I hadnít had a bite all morning.
A blue jay landed on a branch in a tree a few feet away. He stared at me a moment and
flew off. In the distance, a crow cawed. Other than that, there wasnít a sound. I closed my
eyes and let the rising sun wash away the chill of the early morning.

I sighed contentedly. An osprey, silhouetted by a turquoise sky, flew a few
hundred feet above my head. Obviously a better fisherman than I, it clutched a fresh trout
in its talons.

It didnít bother me. I wasnít there for the fish. It was time alone in the
outdoors I craved. Every so often, I rose, checked my bait and cast it back into the lake.
In the beaver hut at my side, I heard the squeaking of baby beavers. A few minutes later,
one of the adult beavers swam around the point, saw me and disappeared in a splash of
water, as it slapped its tail. A moment later, the squeaking in the hut grew louder as mom
or dad arrived.

I sat and let my thoughts wander Ė content to sit and think. By noon, without one
bite from a trout, I rose from my spot by the shore, collected my stuff and headed for
home. Along the path through the brush, I spotted a cluster of May flowers and picked a
bouquet for my wife. We were both fans of their heavenly scent.

It was a mile walk to the highway and my car. Half way there, I breasted a small
hill. Four deer flashed their white tails, leaped through the shrub and disappeared into the
thicket.

My car sat in the clearing, fifty feet from the highway. A few feet behind it, a
groundhog stuck his head from a hole and cautiously watched my approach. As I drew
near, its courage left. It whistled a signal of danger and disappeared under the ground.

Twenty-five years later, I exited my office building in midtown Manhattan
and was greeted with a rush of heat, the blare of horns and sirens, and a sea of humanity.
It had been many years since I last fished. My little lake in the woods of Nova Scotia
was a distant memory.

I followed the herd of commuters who, like the groundhog, disappeared under the
ground. We shuffled beneath the concrete and into the stifling humidity of the subway
station. People growled in protest, as others pushed past them to reach their train.
Somewhere up ahead, a guitar was played by someone collecting donations. Trains
screeched to a stop, unloaded and loaded passengers and in minutes, rumbled out of sight
into the tunnels that hollowed the underbelly of the city. There was no sun to enjoy.
There was no peace, no quiet and no nature.

Ginny and I had enough of the rush and expense of New Jersey and New York.
We moved to Idaho, with it mountains, rivers and a slower pace. One early July morning,
we stood at the edge of crystal clear mountain stream and tossed our lines. The
trees were alive with the yellow, red and black of the western tanager, a small mountain
bird. Towering over all, were the snowcapped peaks of the Stanley Mountains.

The sound of the rushing water and the singing birds took me back to the peace
of my little lake in Nova Scotia, so many years behind me. In the back country, a
personís body changes. Unlike the city, where I drowned in the noise and rush and
eventually retreated inside myself; here with nature, my mind soaks and softens. The
world becomes clear. My thoughts are free to roam. I begin to see, hear, smell and feel
again.

This is where I belong Ė with nature.

Michael T. Smith