The river in the Garden of Eden was probably not next to a road. The Norwalk River in Connecticut runs along Route 7, the Ethan Allen Highway, beginning near where I live in Ridgefield and flowing down past the city of Norwalk and into Long Island Sound. There are a few good fishing holes on the stream especially near the town of Wilton and I enjoy fishing there sometimes. Yet on the Norwalk, you are never very far from the noise of the cars, a parking lot or a row of stores. The river in the Garden of Eden would be far from civilization.
One of my favorite rivers for many years was the Connetquot on Long Island, a beautiful cold-water stream located in a State Park. Sadly, the river was not too long ago cleared of trout due to IPN, a trout parasite, and I believe still unable to be fished.
Surrounded by suburbs and strip-malls on all sides, Connetquot State Park is a garden oasis of calm and tranquility. It was also a very popular place to cast a fly due to heavy stocking from the hatchery located within the park. After registering at the entrance and choosing a beat, a close to mile hike, past the old gristmill, a calm lake and through the woods, was necessary to reach the stream. The only sign of mankind was the occasional plane that flew overhead, which I accepted with disdain.
Sunset on the Connetquot River
The only thing separating the Connetquot River from the stream that flowed through the Garden of Eden was its popularity, the stream always being pretty crowded. Adam and Eve were alone in the Garden of Eden; time spent alone on a trout stream can be a spiritual experience for us as well. With only nature and our thoughts to keep us company, we can connect to ourselves and reflect on our lives. It is no accident that many Biblical figures found God while alone in places of natural beauty. Moses was alone on Mt. Sinai when God spoke to him through a burning bush. Alone on the stream, we too may feel a presence larger than ourselves.
The closest that I probably ever came to fishing the river in the Garden of Eden was in Argentina. While it was not one of the legendary rivers of Patagonia, I spent an amazing day on the San Jose River near Cordoba. I met my guide before dawn. We drove for an hour, through the most perfect, picturesque hills and valleys. With few trees, we saw beautiful views in all directions. There was no one around for miles. The sun was coming up above the peaks of the hills. This was the most beautiful place that I had ever fished.
The San Jose River in Argentina
The guide and I arrived at the river at seven. There was a good hatch of flies, and I cast my Griffin’s Gnat onto the stream. Within half an hour, I caught four small rainbows, all of which were returned to the river. As the sun came up, and the hatch ended, we began to hike down stream. With a brown grasshopper at the end of my line, I was even able to tempt a monster fish that moved towards the surface, but then retreated back to the deep water. After a few hours in Paradise, we headed back to the car.
We need not travel to Argentina or halfway across the world to find the river that flows through the Garden of Eden. Any stream can feel like Paradise, if the time spent in the river helps us to leave behind the stress of everyday and connect to a higher part of ourselves.