Cover

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. vii-9

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-13

For their help in reading and preparing parts of the manuscript, the author thanks Bob Benson, Stan Lindberg, Maura Mandyck, Karen Perry, and especially Susan Aiken. Some of these essays first appeared in the following publications: "Indian Givers...

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Oystercatchers

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pp. 1-4

BACK WHEN we were young enough to believe that the rest of our lives would take forever, Ocean Isle Beach was undeveloped, an empty stretch of marsh and sand, naked to the south Atlantic sun. Someone had recently built a bridge from the mainland, and if you...

PART 1

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Indian Givers

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pp. 7-20

MOST of the boys I grew up with were more interested in playing baseball and football than they were in hunting and fishing and camping, but I was different. Until I was twelve or thirteen, I would rather have found an arrowhead than hit a home run. I had no more...

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Mountain Spirits

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pp. 21-32

THE MAN who told me how to find Bascomb Creek had lowered his voice to keep from being overheard by the people standing near us. "It's hard to find but it's easy to fish," he'd whispered, "and it's jumping with trout. Just keep it to yourself." That sounded too good to be true, but as soon as I got home, I called my friend Charlie...

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Coming off the Back of Brasstown Bald

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pp. 33-45

EVEN WHEN he was married, Billy Claypoole was subject to impulses that drove him from home, down the blacktop county roads through the waning afternoons, into the night. Sometimes he stopped at my house, unannounced, wanting me to go with him. Looking back...

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High Blood

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pp. 46-56

JUST ABOVE the toilet, directly in front of my eyes, hangs a framed stanza of verse: There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that won't sit still. They break the hearts of kith and kin And roam the world at will. Singsong doggerel by Robert W. Service, but it nails Billy Claypoole like an epitaph......

PART 2

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Taken by Storm

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pp. 59-67

MY GRANDFATHER spent the last thirty years of his life in bed, victim of an assortment of chronic maladies. During my childhood, he seemed to suffer one crisis after another—the deliriums of high fever, internal bleeding, and once, a stroke that left him tangled...

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Open House

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pp. 68-77

FOR the last two weeks a summer tanager has been pecking at the window in our den. All day he's at it, fluttering, breast to glass, peck, peck, peck. I know, of course, what he's doing. He is mistaking his reflection for a rival tanager. Cardinals and mockingbirds are famous...

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A Gift from the Bear

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pp. 78-96

IT'S A RARE THING these days to come face to face with a wild animal that is powerful enough to kill you. In the lower forty-eight your best bet is Glacier or Yellowstone National Park. It's not likely even in those places, but it is possible because grizzlies live there. I....

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According to Hemingway

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pp. 97-112

GOOD FISH STORIES start with good fish. Trout is the choice of most writers, which is not surprising when you consider that trout fishing traces its ancestry back to a book. Ernest Hemingway wrote the best trout-fishing story in American literature, maybe in the world, then..

PART 3

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pp. 113-127

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Inheritance of Horses

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pp. 115-145

JIM KILGO loved a spirited horse and he drove with a heavy foot. You may think I'm mixing metaphors, but those are literal facts. When he was fifty-two, his friend Bob Lawton told him to "take things more quietly, strive for inward peace, make the world your brother, and...