shore of smith lake at sunrise

A happy place is a memory, situation, location or activity that makes you feel genuine happiness. For most Alabamians, their happy place is Saturdays in Tuscaloosa or Auburn. For most southerners, it’s either their mama’s home cooking or a sunny day out on the water. I relate to them all, however, my happy place is Smith Lake. As you pull up on the winding roads of the scenic backcountry, the beautiful bridges across the water, and the private, nature surrounded homes scattered across the lake, it feels easy to crack a smile. These wonderful features all make Smith Lake what it is today. I grew up on this Lake, and all the giving people and beautiful wildlife have contributed to who I am. I’ve had some of the best times of my life on this water, and made memories I’ll never forget. 

It’s truly the little moments that stick out in my head the most. I’ll always remember the early morning fishing sessions with my dad, waking up way too early to “get out there while the fish are sleeping”. Some days we’d catch 50, some days we’d catch 5, but as I got older, I began to realize it was never about the fish. Growing up is realizing it’s about that first glance at the sunrise, watching the beams cut through the fog as they dance across the lake’s surface. It’s about the 80’s hits XM radio station that we would play on the lowest volume possible as we crept across the lake, trying not to “wake the fish”. It was about coming back for lunch to pick up my mom, sisters, and the coolers which they had packed to the brim with ham and cheese hawaiian rolls. It’s truly about all the memories made with the people I love, because unlike those ham and cheese sandwiches, the memories will last forever.

I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good ole days before you’ve actually left them. It’s taken the entirety of my youth to realize that true happiness is not about the destination, but rather the journey that was taken to get there. It’s not about where you’re going, true happiness comes from the memories made with the ones you’re with. However, Smith Lake sure does find a way to put a smile on your face. Guess that’s the definition of a happy place.