I scrambled downhill from the bluebird box, thinking some animal was in distress.
When I cleared the alder, I saw the young man on the opposite beach, fishing. He threw out the line with such force and accuracy that it startled me. While I watched, he caught a fish, pulled it in, removed the hook, and tossed it back into the lake.
"Third one today," he called.
"Do you always catch and release?" I asked.
"Oh yes, ma'am. Always."
"Like my nephew," I said. "I don't actually understand it. Sometimes the trout he catches sure look like they'd make a good dinner."
He continued to fish, and I stalked Odonates. I found a dozen or more mature Swamp Spreadwings, close enough for clear and sharp photographs.
I decided to walk over to the fisherman at the very moment he started to reel in another fish.
"May I look?" I asked.
"What is it?"
"A largemouth bass," he said and held the fish for a couple of photographs. I wouldn't want my thumb or finger down past that tongue, where I saw some mean-looking serrated jaws.
The next thing I knew, the fisherman told me he would be getting married soon and wanted to move back home, to the mountain where he was raised. I heard about his work as a volunteer fireman in Sewanee, his application to become a Chattanooga firefighter, his mother and her breast cancer and her all-clear prognosis from the doctor.
Before he drove off, he said, "When I see you again here at the lake, I'll stop and chat."
"Great!" I said and waved as he drove off.
Today, I came to the lake looking for bugs and left thinking about what it means to be Sewanee born and bred.