As I sat behind my parents house over the this past labor day weekend, cooking s'mores over the campfire, with my cousins and aunt, who were visiting from suburban Washington, D.C. and my parents, we began to reflect on what we had done that day. To myself, this was an semi-average day consisting of walking around a rural, river valley town, going to check trail cameras, exploring the area around my tree stand, showing Austin and Avery (my two younger cousin who were visiting) the wonders of what a little green shoot of sassafras can taste like, a trip to the river to wade in and skip rocks, and a night cap of a campfire and s'mores. To us, lucky enough to grow up in this great mountain state, this doesn't sound like such a far fetched day. But to those two elementary aged children this was a new wild and wonderful world of amazement and adventure. As the recap continued, there was a sense of awe from my aunt, who visits western Maryland on skiing trips and is familiar with the area, over the past days events. The amazement she was showing took me back to some degree. Who would have thought that a simple day in what I considered an ordinary day could have such an impact on someone.
After the s'mores were eaten, the fire had smoldered out, and the young ones were tucked into bed, it began to hit me that the life I lead in the mountains might not be that ordinary. But for those of you that live and breath the outdoors know what I'm referring to, but those series of events have helped me remember a saying, or more so a motto to live by that my grandfather taught me at a very young age. This is something that I've thought, back then, could be mastered in a childhood, but now as an adult have come to realize that this is something you will never fully grasp, even in a lifetime. That motto is to, "stop and smell the roses." Such a simple little line, something you may have even heard a few times throughout your life, but I beg you to heed this advice. Whether you are hunting, fishing, going for a hike, camping, or even just skipping stones across the river, "Stop and smell the rose" for a while. Life will be there, yet the experience that you will take in, just those few extra moments with the people around you or even by yourself will make memories that will last a lifetime. As for where I learned this; It would have been just another hike with my grandfather, but a quarter of the way into the hike we reached the first bench on our way up the mountain, overlooking a one of the West Virginia valleys that Route 50 runs though, and he told me just stop for a moment. I did, but with a dumbfounded look on my face for sure, I asked him "Why?", knowing that he wasn't tired or in need of a break. And right then, at the ripe ol' age of six, I learned one the most valuable life lessons to date, that I still try to achieve to this day, "...just stop and smell the roses for a while. This trip isn't about getting from start to finish, but about taking everything in along the way." That trip, right then, became a memory that will last a lifetime, just a matter of 30 seconds of explanation and few moments of "stopping and smelling" has left an impression me, my life, and my views for eternity.