Bob Menzies – “The Ozarks”
This morning I woke up looking out on one of the most beautiful scenes imaginable: the sun rising over the wooded, pristine forest and clear blue waters of Tablerock Lake. Only the Ozark Mountains could produce a scene like this, and it is a wonder to behold. There is wonderful fishing in both the lake and various tributaries of the White River that bless this lovely part of Southwest Missouri. Certainly God must have smiled when he created these rugged hills.
The beauty of nature reminds of us of how the human family is so richly blessed, but this morning my thoughts drifted to the uniquely American aspects of this experience. You see, I have lived and worked in China for the past twenty years. Prior to that, I was privileged to live for almost four years in the northeast part of Scotland. My experiences in China and Scotland expanded my horizons and introduced me to the incredible beauty of these lands and their people. Nevertheless, as I lay in my pop-up camper and looked out over the waters of Tablerock Lake, I couldn’t help but think of the utterly unique and distinctively American aspects of my setting. Only in America could normal people like me – not simply the rich, the powerful, or the famous – have the kind of access to the lake, camping, and rivers that all Americans enjoy. Only in America would you see the incredible diversity of campers (everything from my little pop-up to satellite-equipped fifth wheelers), boats (I have seen fishing boats on this lake that would make the navies of most countries envious), and fishing gear (rods and flies made with consummate skill, including our wonderful Wild River Flies) that I have witnessed this week, because in America innovation is encouraged and rewarded in a unique way.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Wonderful fishing and settings of incomparable beauty can be found around the world, especially in China and Scotland. Scotland in particular has some incredible locations for fly-fishing and boasts a long and rich heritage of casting flies. But the thing that makes American unique is the incredible access that normal people – people like you and me – have to our lakes and rivers. Additionally, the wonderful entrepreneurial spirit that permeates this nation has enabled it to produce some amazing products for “life in the wilderness” (can Wifi and wilderness be used in the same sentence?) and our struggle to compete with those wily creatures that inhabit it. Although the fish still seem to have the upper hand in my on-going battle with them, I do think all Americans should celebrate these unique blessings.