The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 13, 2014

Spring break is an attitude

What really matters is we get outside and celebrate that winter is gone

BECKLEY — Finally, warmer weather has arrived to the Mountain State. I’m told, it’s socially acceptable to be late nowadays and there is even a term for it — being fashionably late. Of course, I have also been told that camo is the new black in fashion. I don’t care much for tardiness, or for fashion for that matter, but I am perfectly content with the weather forecaster’s report as of late. And if wearing camouflage is trendy, I will fit in just nicely at any social gathering.

Regardless, warmer weather is here and it’s time to enjoy the outdoors. For many of us, it’s spring break time. Some schools were already on break, some are out this week or the following, but that doesn’t matter. What really matters is that we get outside and celebrate the simple fact that winter is gone! (I mean, that spring has arrived.)

Spring break is not a time or a date on the calendar; it’s much more than that. It’s an attitude and a much-needed interruption from being cramped up inside. It doesn’t even have to be week or involve a tricky itinerary to someplace known for umbrella drinks and white, sandy beaches. For most of us who prefer to live in the outdoor lifestyle, we have all we need right out our back door, and all the planning we really need is to mark a day or two on our calendars.  

For me, spring break has always involved fishing. In the Spring breaks of my youth, the fishing most often entailed a trip to the mountains. Going to the mountains, the highlands of West Virginia found within the Monongahela National Forest was a spring ritual for my family, and some of my most fond memories of early spring are of places found there. Tent camping along a trout stream, a secluded hole of water full of trout, cooking breakfast over a fire and simply driving the peaceful gravel roads with the windows down were all part of the spring experience.

We didn’t need much back then, but a pair of Red Ball waders, some bait and a cooler full of provisions for a day or so and we were set. Besides, we always had fish to fry and ramps to add to our potatoes for our celebration meal at the end of the day. And if we were really lucky, we might even find enough molly moocher mushrooms for an out-of-this-world snack. Most celebration meals occurred around a campfire eating off of paper plates with plastic forks but for me, they were the some of the best meals of the year.

The mountains offer a glimpse into the wilds of our state with a backdrop of breathtaking scenery and a sense of peacefulness. The connection to nature one feels in the solitude of wild places is nothing short of magical. For me, a trip to the mountains is a fine reward of early spring. I cherish the memories made there and hold them with great value.

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