CATCHING BIG FISH


The! Weather! Is! Warm!

Which means I get to go fishing!!!

I’ll be honest, when I was looking at leaving Colorado and becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA, my top priority after “will it make a difference?” and “am I interested in it?” was “is there good fishing nearby?”

This may seem shallow, but actually I consider it deep. Deep like the Missouri where I caught this fish!!!

The photographically-inclined among you may be wondering why this picture is blurry. It’s because I was so excited, my hands were shaking.

In all seriousness, though, fly-fishing is my preferred method of self-care. It also tends to remind me of all the strange ways humans have changed the world, and how we’ve come to consider it to be “the way it is.”

My freshman year of college, I took this great class called “World Archaeology,” which focused in large part on the development of agriculture in different parts of the world. One of our assignments was to track everything we ate in a week and find out where each ingredient in that food was domesticated. Of course, one of the things I ate that week was a brown trout I caught in one of the local streams. Brown trout aren’t really domesticated, but they are originally from Europe, so they aren’t really native either; they were introduced by settlers to North America, yet I didn’t even consider that until college because I consider brown trout “normal”. The magnificent fish above, of course, is a rainbow trout, not a brown, but the only reason I caught it where I did is because Hauser Dam regulates the water right there and creates a smorgasbord of food for trout. What we consider “normal” is, it turns out, more complicated than we think.

In many other ways, we’ve created a food system that we now consider normal. Before I started serving with No Kid Hungry, I hadn’t thought about school meals in… probably close to 10 years, because I started packing my own lunch after elementary school and never ate breakfast at school in the first place. But just the other day, I looked at the breakfast menus for my old school district back in Colorado. Right there, front and center on their food service page, was the menu for breakfast in the classroom. The kids who go to my old elementary school, like the kids at over half the schools here in Helena, will grow up with breakfast in the classroom being normal, rather than having breakfast in the cafeteria for the poor kids.

I love that. I love that we are creating a new normal.

Ellen Harris
Montana No Kid Hungry-PRC AmeriCorps VISTA
Helena, MT