top of page

Dawn's Cast

Carter Walker never felt more at home than when he was down by the creek. Everywhere he looked, another scene replayed from his eighty-nine year old life. His visit this time though was markedly different. At every stage, life gives us moments we treasure. He treasured each and every one.

Each and every rut in the washed-out dirt road reverberated through Carter Walker’s truck like the punching bag game at the fair. Settling on a shady spot down by the creek, he silenced the engine, took out an old pocket watch and noted the time, 6:07 am, the first time he’d cast a reel with an empty chair by his side.

Aged hands speckled with liver spots gripped the steering wheel for support as he opened the cab door and gingerly hopped onto the ground. He gripped the truck bed as he walked its length to open the tailgate. The bait and tackle box that always accompanied these trips was nothing fancy, it served a utilitarian purpose. Carter reached for it along with the fishing pole and pulled them both to the edge of the tailgate. The chairs always came next in his unloading routine. Muscle memory grasped for one and then a second, replaying what his heart knew to be untrue.

This time he would only need one.

He took a deep breath then, touched the bill of his worn cap and readjusted it. He turned his gaze to the creek bed then. It seemed most of his life had been spent here, well the better parts at least. No matter where he looked a memory appeared. Decades of his life replayed simultaneously as his eyes drifted from the banks to the swiftly moving current and over to the adjacent small meadow. They said this would happen, the images replaying. It was to be expected, part of the cycle he supposed.

There he was at four years old, tousled haired and bubbling with innocence learning how to hold a rod. Unsure of his footing and requiring help to reel in his first catch, his father gently supported and guided him. Chock full of patience and a quiet kind of love, he inherited so much from a man of few words.

Later at fifteen, swimming to cool off from summer’s fury. Still tousled haired but now ruddy in complexion, he swung from a rope landing in the middle of the creek, uninhibited by the weight of adulthood fast approaching. His brother, the daredevil, always upped the ante after every jump fostering a healthy competition.

At twenty-six, skin bronzed by a life outdoors and engrained confidence, he could cast like a pro. A full stomach courtesy of his wife sustained him, and he covertly admired her sunlit strands of hair as she read a book. She never took to fishing but was always willing to accompany him, dashing down the hall for whatever library book happened to be in her possession at the time. She appreciated the silence and the nature, and they found peace in each other’s presence.

Thirty-four years of age, a proud father of two, he passed the knowledge down. Standing between his two sons, he balanced the tasks of doing and letting them gain independence. The photographs of their catches from that day stayed clipped to his driver’s side visor. Heat and humidity had done a number on their quality, but no matter. They were forever etched in his memory.

A burgeoning patch of gray hair announced his age at forty-eight. He sat side by side with his oldest on the tailgate, drinking a cold one after a good day’s catch. His grin spread wider than the creek was long when told he would soon be a grandpa.

Three cars haphazardly parked and the whole gang of his wife, two grown sons and their own family units gathered to celebrate his fifty-seventh birthday. Grandchildren ran around playing tag with lips and tongues discolored by the rainbow of popsicle flavors they had consumed one after the other. It went without saying that the birthday cake featured a fish on it.

Sixty-five saw a recurrence of fishing with only his two children by his side, the best gift on a Father’s Day. Adult responsibilities and physical distance rendered get-togethers less and less frequent. The love would always be there, but the transition to a reliance on phone and email had been more emotionally difficult than he could express.

Back slightly rounded from osteoporosis, at seventy-eight he remained active and in relatively good health for his age. His wife still looked forward to accompanying him. She walked now to find her library book instead of dashing, and the books were now in large print. Her gray hair still caught the sun, illuminating all of that which he fell in love with.

And here he stood at eighty-nine, readjusting his worn cap by the tailgate as he contemplated not having to pull out a second chair. He knew the curveball that placed him in his current circumstances was inevitable. Loss was intrinsic to life, but the hurt ached palpably.

He pulled out the single chair and carried it to the edge of the creek. Easing into it with an exhale, he would wait here. The sunrise beckoned a new dawn as his life on the other side began.



This photo is of the Alapaha River in Echols County, Georgia. The Alapaha River is 202 miles long and is located in southern Georgia and northern Florida. When the water volume is diminished, the river disappears underground and becomes a subterranean river.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page