My mind is a whirl of flaming Lombardy poplars, water clear and cool; of shafts of sunlight cutting across the mountains and igniting the yellowing veld.
Whisky from the bottle cap, ice on boots, and rocks on two wheel tracks. Rods, flies, cussing, jokes and dust.
Cold wet socks.
Nuts, mussels and biltong from the backpack.
The Birkhall porch: swirls of light and clinking glasses in the night. Tobacco smoke and fishing plans. Roads: ever curling , descending, rising, twisting and demanding another gear.
The veld: whisked and brushed by wind, seed-heads bowing and bucking, in browns and pale sun-washed ambers.
Footfalls: plodding and tired in wet boots, stumbling on stones, sliding into the water, jarring knees, and pushing aside ever resisting swathes of grass and current.
Fatigue. Freedom. Beer. Faces of true friends ignited in the day’s sunlight, smiling, jovial and a little reddened. Steaming plates of hot food. Coffee. Sleep. Tea. Frost. sunlight and wind.
Punching fly-casts. Fish, fleeting, fleeing, watery and dreamlike. Sheep paths. Tippet and gink. Wet poplar leaves. Tongues of current and water spreading over pale gravel and stone.
Drifts, flicks, drag, and lightning takes. Sleep, drive, walk, fish, walk, drive, drink, eat, sleep.
A little photographic trick: Look for opportunities where the fly-caster has a dark background behind him, or at least a patch of dark, across which his fly line will pass when he casts. You might have to ask him to step forward out of the shadows just a little in order to get the sunlight to catch his arcing line. Then take pictures on continuous shooting , in order to get the line at the perfect spot. These opportunities will present themselves more in the early morning or late afternoon, and more so in steep river canyons, where shaded vertical walls are common.
In this first image, I had to wait for PD to fish the run properly (he was hidden in the shade), and then I asked him to step forward just a step or so to get the line into the sunlight. We were on the Riflespruit, and it was the first pool of the day.
The picture is special because my father, an artist (oils), painted the scene, and PD now has it hanging in his house.