Monday, September 16, 2013

Roots and wings

All the fields around here have been cut with high yields reported, plenty of duck have found the stubble, feeding hard in the evening before flitting to water to roost. We are fortunate enough to have every species of indigenous owl within a mile of here and many make the most of easy hunting across the stubbles at night. On occasion while out rabbit shooting we have come across an obdurate owl perched on a fence post happy to take the full force of the spotlight from little more than ten yards refusing to budge, often it is us who blinks first turning the spotlight away and moving on in pursuit of bunnies, else the owl flops away to another perch. There are plenty of Roe deer about, out in the open hovering up any spilt corn, give it a couple of weeks and they will revisit the meadows to knock over my pheasant feeders in search of a free feed.

Apples abound in these parts both cookers and eaters, the senior Bramley in the garden by the river is covered with hundreds of small fruit, while the eater that resembles a Discovery twenty yards from the fishing hut has its best crop for years which has drawn most wasps in the vicinity. Plums are par for the course, and the figs are fairly good although pale when compared to the crop we saw ripening off in Corfu.

The hops that rampage across the thicket below the top shallows are beginning to brown, and misty mornings and a dew that betrays miraculous feats of web spinning by spiders in the night suggest that autumn is imminent. No trees are yet on the turn other than a Whitebeam in the garden that always seems to go early, and all bar the Cherries have had a reasonable summer, even the conker, that in recent summers has turned to rust by the end of July.

It is difficult to walk up the river or the road without hearing the squeak of a kingfisher filling their boots on the masses of minnows in the river or chasing silver fish in the pond. The phragmites is threatening to take over the pond and recent forays in the boat to trim it back a tad revealed huge numbers of roach and rudd in gin clear water, a few big bream remain and a couple of swan mussels lay in the fine silt. I returned a few hours later with my camera hoping to get a photo of the mud loving mollusc but it had shuffled off somewhere. Unaware of just how quick across the ground they can be I returned home to consult the font of all knowledge and googled “how does a swan mussel move” which threw up a video on Youtube by a german guy with too much time on his hands of a swan mussel making haste beneath the waves.

Child A returned from her ten days on a volcanic island and Child B survived Dublin, just. He is currently coughing and spluttering with some gaelic oojah, a condition he will retain in the coming weeks when he mixes with the masses at Cardiff. On the two occasions that I have fished in Ireland we have always returned with some to share amongst the neighbours, One year my brother brought back the gift of chicken pox for his classmates and subsequently his sibling during exams, and I found some form of Eire flu picked up after extensive bobbing up and down on Lough Ree in pursuit of pike in rain and wind of the eighties.

On this river, fly continue to hatch, trickles of olives through the middle of the day, and several fish have been caught. The factor of a local fishing tackle emporia visited and caught four fish in a few hours the best a fish of five pounds that I had no idea was in that part of the river. But the river remains very low, if a pair of swans shuffle their feet for five minutes upstream, the whole river turns cloudy. In May the Indian runners that occupy my employers orchard strained their necks to get at the barley on the bed of the river margins that we broadcast for their brunch. This morning they walked across a river which was too shallow to swim in to receive their provender. I won’t go on, but we need a wet winter with no new abstraction, nuff said.

Over on the Itchen the river has assumed the late season sparkle that the Dever is sadly lacking. The river is gin clear with verdant weed enjoying the light, a similar case exists on the middle Test. In times of low water it’s the tributaries and upper reaches that suffer on groundwater fed rivers, while in times of high flow the clear water is to be found in the far flung reaches as opposed to the main river. Hatches of fly have not been as prolific as last year which is a surprise, but after a murky start the short stretch which I jump in and out of is in prime condition.

At home, the lady who sleeps on my left and myself have begun to compile a bucket list of “things to do once the kids have gone” strictly sedentary stuff so far until we pass the medical, but having spent an afternoon at a christening in the company of fifty odd, most of whom were marshalling young children, we eyed them enviously while they reciprocated with equal envy at our imagined opportunities to attend various abodes and try this and experience that now our ties were reduced.

Mdme has some ideas, Otis has great expectations and eyes the sofa regularly, but myself I look forward to doing things a tad better with more time available. In peanut butter terms I have been spreading myself a bit thin in the last five years.

Child A and Child B will be back at Christmas with their chaotic ways, when we will no doubt be reminded that our standards have slipped since they last departed and could we make sure that the car is fully fuelled as they have places to be and people to see.

Other than Otis taking up space on the sofa (he has the mother of all booties) I don’t think we would have it any other way

Roots and wings, roots and wings

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