Dan Smail


I learned from a book that I love, called Braiding Sweetgrass, that “ flourishing is mutual”. I learned from my father the exact same thing. Ever since I was small, he shared his passions with me, allowing me to learn and experience immensely enriching things that I would never have known without him. His patience and dedication to showing me the wonder of our Earth has helped me to form my own passions. Whether it be waking up early to take me on my first hunting excursion, buying my very first bike, or providing me with the hiking gear and books that I would need to explore with ease, Dad has always given me everything I need to thrive and be happy in the outdoors. He shares with me his time and knowledge, and we both are able to truly enjoy when we spend time together out in nature.         The picture that comes with this writing is a depiction of a time where my father was gifting me with his passion, so that I might also fall in love with another aspect of the outdoors. One afternoon, we were going to immerse ourselves in the world of flies. I had seen a documentary on Megan Boyd and greatly admired the art that she created, but I had never used them to fish myself. My father, on the other hand, had. He loved fly fishing, and talked about it fondly and often. He was good at it, and for a long time, it had been one of his favourite pastimes. This was the day that he decided to share that with me. He showed me how to cast out the rod, how to angle it, and how to take off the slack of the wispy line that sat on the pond, waiting for a fish to pull it under the water. He took my hands, and moved with me, showing me the motions of flyfishing. It was light and effortless for him. As he taught me, I slowly picked up the skill that I was learning, but I quickly began to admire his patience and love for not only me, but what he was doing. While I might not be the best fly fisherman, and certainly not as good as my dad, it is a skill that I still carry with me today, and an activity that I enjoy doing with my father.         Although I’m only sixteen, I know for certain that the impact that my father has made on my life, not only through nature and the outdoors but in so many other ways, will stay with me throughout the entirety of my life, and that it will continue to grow with each and every adventure that we share. Thank you, Dad, for all the things that you have done for me and given to me, and thank you for always showing me how to flourish alongside you.