In case you’re not familiar with fishing paraphernalia…a bobber is a small float an angler clips to the line to suspend his baited hook at a desired depth. Bobbers come in different shapes and sizes. While some are fashioned from cork, balsawood, even porcupine quill, most are round and made of plastic. Red-over-white is the traditional color scheme. Fishermen are forever losing bobbers. Their hook snags in a log, fouls among rocks, catches on underwater weeds—or perhaps gets entangled in the rusting hulk of a ’59 Chevy someone ditched in the creek decades ago. When the angler yanks too hard trying to pull things free, the line breaks. He loses not only his hook and sinker, but also his bobber—which may stay attached to the lost portion of fishing line, visibly marking the spot of the mishap; alternately, the bobber may slip off the line and go drifting away, across the lake or pond, downstream if set free on a creek or river. I always think these little lost bobbers look rather forlorn, like tiny round red-and-white clad workers suddenly let go of their jobs—a bit lost and at odds as to their future place and worth. As a kid I used to collect lost bobbers. When my father and I went fishing, I’d try and rescue any bobbers I found along the stream or lake. If we were in a boat, Dad—catering to my concerns, and being something of a bobber-liberator himself—would row me close enough that I could lean over the bow and grab my prize. I kept my found bobbers in the basement, clipped to a long length of old flyline tacked between ceiling joists above the workbench. My colorful collection took up several feet and easily numbered in the hundreds—though both Dad and I both plucked bobbers from the string whenever we needed a few for our tackle boxes. A lost bobber still strikes me as a bit pathetic, floating there, unused, unloved, as if waiting for the right soft-hearted fool to come along. There’s no fool like an old fool. I’m still goofily sentimental about some pretty weird things, and I’ll still take the time and effort to retrieve a lost bobber if I can mange to do so without too much fuss. The bobber in the photo must have known my leanings, understood—as much as an inanimate object can understand—that I would welcome it, pluck it from the river, clean and dry it, and provide safe haven in a corner of my tackle box. That’s why is came to me—bobbing through the riffle…bobbing over the foot-high drop-off…bobbing along the edge of the current swirling below and into the eddy where I stood with my camera—motioning, encouraging, applauding its progress and good sense. And after taking its picture…picking it up and welcoming it home.