Many of us are simply born into a place that we will forever call home. It’s that golden place where we take our first steps, watch our first sunset and catch our first fish.
But there are also those who are born in the wrong time, living as an anachronism from their first breath, while others come into this world in the right time, but the wrong location.
Author Steven J. Meyers fits in with this last group.
Born in the East and educated in the Midwest, Meyers wouldn’t truly find his home until a trip to photograph the desert near Moab took him through the San Juan Mountains.
In Notes from the “San Juans: Thoughts About Fly Fishing and Home,” Meyers weaves the tale of his journey to Colorado and the tragedy, beauty and wonder of the rugged range that captivated him.
Fishing is the driving force in Meyers’ quest for home — the act itself an allegorical search for his father, whom he last saw waving goodbye from the platform as his train pulled away from Newark’s Penn Station, bound for college near Chicago, so many years ago.
He speaks of his father in tones of gray, with memories of a military man that taught him about the outdoors and to respect literature. A reader can feel Meyers’ hope that his father will appear from the fog a little further downstream and either join him for some time on the water or simply wave goodbye once more before fading back into memory.
Meyers’ narrative takes the reader flowing through his life, passing milestones forged from heartache, adventure, tragedy and love.
Tales of love lost after better days spent on the banks of Annabelle Lake; adventure sought and found while searching for lost gold in the Twilight Mountains, only to leave with worthless “leaverite” and priceless memories; finding a muse in the enigmatic and free-spirited Dolores; time spent pondering Fatalgrams deep within the earth while working in the cramped Sunnyside Mine; of being a proud father; and of love eventually drifting back into his life, years later and miles from the headwaters.
He writes in nostalgic tones of the colorful characters that made Silverton his Colorado home; many of the grand stories were originally told by the old-timers, stories about the camaraderie and capableness of the stout people who have become local legends.
Through it all, Meyers finds his solitude alongside his “home stream.”
Not a nit-picky purist but a true fly-fisherman at heart, Meyers is amazed by the beauty of the “jewels” that flow through his life — fish of vibrant colors born from the hues of the San Juans themselves.
And when writing about his home stream, the melancholy tones of life back East undergo a metamorphosis. His words leave that cold train platform in Newark and come to life alongside the rivers he now fishes in southwestern Colorado.
“A home stream, for me, must be in sight of the mountains. There must be the hope of alpenglow in the evening. A home stream must have trout, native trout. It must be wild and unregulated, flowing in accordance with the rhythms of nature — flooding when it rains hard or when the snow melts, slowing in the fall as it waits for winter and then another spring.”
He finds his peace while fishing and allows readers to swim in his thoughts while waiting for an Animas River brown trout to rise or chasing scrappy rainbows and gem-encrusted brookies in small pocket water.
“I realized, even when I was little, that few things could bond men as well as a hunting trip or a fishing expedition, a lifetime of trips together, trips made with friends who remain friends for years. That these men had spent years loving the same things and doing them together impressed me more than anything else. And this, when I think about it, is the part of the angling tradition that moves me the most. Not the tackle. Not the theory. The fact of people spending time together in the woods.”
Common people living exciting lives in a place of extraordinary beauty.
Sounds like home.
— Steven J. Meyers teaches writing at Fort Lewis College in Durango, where he lives and fishes. He is also the author of “Lime Creek Odyssey,” “Streamside Reflections,” San Juan River Chronicle” and “The Nature of Fly Fishing,” among others.
“A home stream must have trout, native trout. It must be wild and unregulated, flowing in accordance with the rhythms of nature …”
Steven J. Meyers
From “Notes from the San Juans: Thoughts About Fly Fishing and Home”