We had just finished driving 12 to 13 hours from our little home town of Marion through vast city scapes in Canada to an even more vast wilderness. Restless and weary …but also anticipating something we had never seen before. That is…. my brother and I ….had never seen before.

Maine…. beautiful. It was a land untouched and left for moose and loons.

My brother, Barry, stuck in the back seat with me….. had always sparked the desire for seeking something new and different…from the books he read to making trails in the woods…… he always had the grasp on the next most interesting thing in our lives.. and thankfully… he took me along for the ride. I’m sure he found it quite annoying to have me in his shadow. In my mind, he was who I wanted to be…..and I have never been as creative or independent.

My father and Uncle Jim were arguing over where we should stop, and looking at a map they didn’t need. Our breath smelled like peanut butter and jelly from the rations we had packed in the back seat thanks to an all knowing mother, and her understanding of the bottomless bit of stomachs her sons are.

I always loved to be in the background of ….well I guess between Jimbo and Dad they are called conversations…but it always seemed like they were only talking to themselves

….within these internal yet ‘thought outloud’ discussions…..you would catch tid bits of stories from the past…

Uncle Jim ” Son, This is the bend ….this is where we saw the 22″ brown. I’m telling you..” with urgency and a slight questionable high pitch but gruff and scratchy voice as he leans forward over the wheel and squints through the wilderness to the river through the windsheild…

Dad ” No…” gentle shake of his head ….the map tilted and his glasses pulled down to the end of his nose.. his hand slightly covering his mouth to muffle the word… ” No, no… this is where we had the double..I remember because of the large rock we just passed…. we need to keep going.”

Uncle Jim..” I know this is it..” even more urgency and putting the vehicle in park to add emphasis.

Dad ” You think this is it?” ..still sounding unsure and questioning…he’s starting to fold his line of thought and give Uncle Jim a chance.

Jimbo ” I know this is it..the tree in the water on the other side of the bank…see it?”

Dad ” Yeeeahhh…” as he looks out not really looking, but pretending too….and agreeing … not really agreeing, but pretending to.

My brother and I start opening our doors in anticipation of the final decision between the two…because…. at this point it becomes a race to the river…

To us….these were and still are…. Magical places with magical people

What have they seen….?

Your imagination would wonder to those places and thier lives and their experiences manifested into treasure hunts for a pirates’ lost gold….but in this world…our world…..trout.

They were the guides, and my brother and I were the lucky spectators. Together ..my dad and Jimbo had more time on the rivers, lakes, and tailwaters of the continent than we had breathing. Anything they said….went….as gospel on the water…. and to us….just as true. As far as we were concerned the two of them spoke…well…. Fish.

I always wondered in those moements.. if Barry and I would have the same stories someday….until I realized… just recently… that these were our stories….those moments and the many others like it.

The stories will someday captivate our children as they have …me and my brother….and hopefully our children will someday feel like my brother and I … caught in a magical place between God’s creation, the ones we love, and the fish on the end of a fly rod.

In His Grip,