The April sun burned hotter than usual on the back of my neck and the tops of my feet as I made my way across the baked expanse of cobbled Texas riverbed. There was reliable water, not so long ago, where Bluebonnets now confidently sprouted from between the rocks with no fear of drowning. I had been profoundly unprepared for this little expedition. In posession of neither sun gaiter, wading boots, nor net. But there I was, making my way alongside another trickle of skinny water, as precious to me as the blood coursing through my veins, in search of a deeper pool and, perhaps, a dance with one of its residents.

I used to wade fish in these outdoor sandals often, but a few slips resulting in toes thoroughly banged-up by Hill Country granite and limestone have changed my mind about protecting my toes. Not to mention the fact that a fellow guide and friend is now down a toe or two courtesy of a Texas river. I’m not sure when the invincibility of youth finally transitioned into the vulnerability of middle age for me, but I’m starting to think I was a late bloomer on that front. There’s a reason my father used to say I “go at everything like killin’ snakes!” I’m just trying to make sure my current perception stops short of paranoia and lands somewhere around prudence, or at least practicality. But in this instance I had a couple of unexpected and precious hours that I was determined to waste wisely, prompting me to throw caution to the wind and wade in sandals. (wow, did I really just say that?)