Our monthlty tale from the banks of the Wissey, courtesy of the Northwold Times
High winds batter the riverside. Everything above ground level is being well and truly tested. Dark dust clouds sweep along at high speed. The reed beds lay flattened as fierce gales whistle over the open fields. The bare trees bend backwards and forwards. Their framework loudly creaks and groans in protest. Suddenly there is a great crash and a tall tree is uprooted and lays propped at an ungainly angle amidst the other trees. Similar noises in all directions suggest the entire length of the river Wissey is being bombarded as the fierce maelstrom passes through.
Further stormy weather is forecast and will continue for a while yet. All conversation refers to the extreme conditions and the media seem to predict the end of the world! But wait a minute surely high winds should be expected at this time of year. Don't we always have days of rough weather in March and April. Thank goodness we cannot control such matters otherwise we would surely be forced to endure hot sunny climes without interruption. Our mix of weather should be happily accepted and even enjoyed. The four seasons of the year are intended to be different and the variety is important to our unique world. Spring is definitely coming but is merely being overtured with a symphony of loud percussion!
The riverside is now well worn and it is difficult to imagine the return of grass but soon it will be knee high again and smelling sweet and fresh. Dead bracken and large areas of dried unknown parentage are gone but the dormant roots will wake up to provide giant growth with a full array of wild flowers and plants. Bare bramble bushes with their mesh of tangles show tiny buds about to burst. Even now the huge mass cannot be penetrated but shortly a great volume will block out all light and cast dark shadows over the margins. The lazy brown reed beds will be renewed with rich green colour and stand proud with heads fluttering in the breeze. Isolated hardy trees and shrubs already show a tinge of green and tease fate for surely they will suffer in the frosts still to come.
The surface of the water has galloping white horses chasing along but they disappear when stronger blasts of wind make flat wild patterns which spread and swirl. Within the dark water all is quiet and static. The cold of winter still penetrates even the deepest stretches so very few fish are active. Most are laid up in sheltered areas in readiness for their imminent spawning. All will miraculously reappear with the warmer temperatures and in no time at all the river will be transformed and heave with energy. Then our gale force winds will be a long forgotten memory.
Everything is in suspension and patiently waiting. Mother Nature is watching (and perhaps even smiling) and when that unknown trigger is fully activated new growth will explode to signal the arrival of another new season. The suspense is all part of our wonderful countryside and we should all enjoy it!
By Ivor Hook