When I was 14 my father taught me about fishing holes. We waded into the shallows of the Platte, the sun at our necks, muddy water lapping our ankles. He would point to the other side of the bank where the otherwise quick, singing water stilled and lay quiet. “That is where the fish rest” he would always say. He taught me to seek the calm that nature provides, despite its haunting chaos.

When I was 19 my father taught me that despite seeking out the fishing holes, despite the singing water around you, and the fish resting in the stillness, sometimes it’s more difficult to find the calm. At 19, my father died and I could no longer seek the calm. I could no longer find the fishing holes. I no longer knew if I wanted to.

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Photo by Brandon Miller Photography

I found myself sitting on the dusty garage floor, sifting through boxes of my father’s things. They smelled of old pine needles hidden in the creases of tents and sleeping bags. There were boxes of camping gear, loved and worn until the seams split open. I found myself drawn to a box full of his fly fishing gear.  In the box lay a tattered vest with a puzzle of pockets, still full from his last trip to the water’s edge. Tucked away were a pair of nail clippers, the place where his thumb rested worn perfectly as if reserving space for my own hand. My father’s legacy of fly fishing wrapped me in its arms, inviting me to explore.

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Photo by Brandon Miller Photography