“I’ll trade this for a trout”

When I was a teen and living in the city, I longed for the outdoors. My cousin invited me to go hiking with him and his dad, his dad’s brother, and the other boys in our tribe for a week in the mountains of California. I had a backpack that I had used for weekend outings with a boys club from my church. The backpack had served more as a duffel bag than for actual travel on trails. I had packed the usual things that I had been taught, but the night before we departed, my cousin and uncle clued me in on thinking “lite” and so we fine-tuned my load.

Later that week, we camped early by a small lake. My uncle often reclined after a bite to eat while the rest of us were eager to explore our new surroundings. With a quick motion, my uncle struck his cupped hand on the ground and came up with a grasshopper. Turning to us he said “I’ll trade this for a trout”. Whereas I had been mesmerized by fancy lures and flies, this simple statement struck me with lasting impact… how a simple bait could be so effective. Even today I try different lures, but nothing beats the real deal. I have kept a long slender branch with an attached line and hook hidden by my favorite pond, knowing that when I happen by occasionally, I just need to scuffle through the brush, or roll some rotten logs to find the tender of trade to exchange for a fish.

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