The worn footbridge leads from the cow shed with it's rotting eaves to the old orchard. The stream it stands over is barely a single pace wide as it flows under the bridge but before it meets the rapids of river pebbles it shallows out, this is the trout nursery pool. This year they arrived in early March, nothing but a pair of eyes and the wisp of something darker below the surface. It is now late April, good Friday in fact and the late afternoon sun is glorious. I have been watching the young trout for some time. I'm sure I could sit here for days if I was free of human needs.
The symmetry of shoaling is nothing short of mesmerising. Although in a group there are definite pairs who every so often break away from the rest. It amazes me at how just an inch or two long they manage to drift so effortlessly in the current until with apparent seamless decision they decide to reconvene. One will try to jump for a fly with enough vigour and effort that an Olympian would be proud. If I was going to anthropomorphize I'd say its glee but I know that not to be true.
There is a hoof mark at the edge where the cows have crossed and this seems to be their favoured spot. Perhaps because the suns rays have warmed it through causing there silken speckled bodies to jostle for the best spot. Every so often one more is just too many and they burst apart like a ribbon being whipped through water.
Their appetite is insatiable and they nip at all they pass including the odd downy chicken feather lost to the weedy edges. They must not communicate as each one tries his hungry luck as he passes. I move slowly to readjust and they scatter as if someone has switched the lights out.
The sun is getting lower now and it rests golden upon the surface. Honeybees land on the rocks to drink long and thirstily. The coolness must be like a mirage in their hot sticky haze. Wiping their faces clean they take off back to the hive.
The fish have now got quite used to me and swim about my feet. I watch their bubbling shadows play on the mud furred rocks below. A trout perhaps an inch larger than the rest swims past in the deep, too cool for the gay abandon of the surface swimmers. The occasional pond skater rows its way above the undercurrent of trout abandoning all laws of physics as it bends water to its will.
A tiny bug has been resting on my leg but I only notice her now that she moves across my pale skin and tumbles down onto the weathered footbridge. I'm no expert in insects and don't pretend to be, There are far too many for my mind to remember. This apparent lack of education does however give me the opportunity to develop one of my most beloved skills of making up names, this bug now being awarded the title of 'royal shuffler'.
It's funny there is no other place I can loose myself quite like being by the humble stream yet at the same time nowhere makes me feel less lonely.
I wish my little trout well for their journey ahead. I will spend as much time with them as I can until one day they will have gone and the nursery pool will seem that much more shallow.