Waters & words

The timelessness of a river

“..the river moves on and on ; the heart follows, willingly, always glad to be Hunter, discoverer.”   Harry Middleton

We describe rivers as living beings. The concept resonates and it allows for the attachment of a personality to a thread of water in Trout country. That seems appropriate. Yet rivers, if they are to be living things, are an anomaly, because they never die.  Sure, in the lowlands, some factory may dump waste and the river “dies”. But even there, look at the Thames and its tributaries now compared to how they were in the industrial revolution!  When man has burned out and imploded in millennia to come, I suspect the Thames will still be there, and I suspect it will have a healthy run of salmon.

A berg stream, will in all likelihood have a an easier go of things. Up there in a steep sided kloof  there is a more evident timelessness. A recent rock fall: a fresh slab of white sandstone, skidded to a halt half way down the mountain, is still fresh thirty years on. The word “recent” takes on a new timeline. We can go back up there and throw a fly as we did half a generation ago, and it is still as it was. 

In a pretty run of water a small trout will be finning, as it was back then. Its presence and purpose there as meaningless and beautiful as a dazzling brushstroke on a canvas.  As one can stand in an art gallery and contemplate a work of art, in order to discover its meaning, so too, one must hike into the mountains and watch that finning Brown. In so doing you will give it meaning, but you will not be able to describe it, and every man will find his own meaning. You have to go there for yourself.  Years on, you will need to go back there again to place another dot on the map of life. Two points on the page set the trajectory. They point you to where you are going.

1984 (5 of 6)

Above:  1982

…..thirty two years later:

Below:  2014Game pass (1 of 1)

My photographic equipment improved in the intervening years. I aged (a bit!). My fishing improved.The farm got expropriated. The government changed. The tree grew.

And the river stayed the same.

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10 responses

  1. Loving this post – savouring every sentiment! I will often be found knee deep in the Thames doing my utmost to draw the right kind of attention to its regeneration – best regards to you Andrew. http://flyfishingwithme.com/thames-river

    Liked by 1 person

    March 7, 2015 at 3:11 am

  2. The berg looks great 32 years later. Here’s to another great stretch of time along this stream.

    Liked by 2 people

    March 7, 2015 at 2:59 am

  3. Graeme Steart

    Great words Andrew… with such truth for those who know it.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 6, 2015 at 8:08 am

  4. Rivers do change sometimes. Thank goodness this one didn’t, it’s beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 6, 2015 at 6:21 am

  5. Kenov

    Great stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 5, 2015 at 8:12 pm

  6. Wolf

    Brilliantly said!

    Like

    March 5, 2015 at 6:12 pm

  7. Fishing a stream like that would be unforgettable!! Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

    March 5, 2015 at 4:41 pm

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