Another delightful tale from the banks of the River Wissey
It was early and everywhere was mist. The fields were filled and the divide between the riverside and the water itself was impossible to register. The mist was only a foot or so high and above the sky was clear and bright. Within the veil you could imagine a fantasy world of intrigue and mystery (but that remains for another story). All heralded yet another beautiful day!
As time passed wisp-like streamers of vapour rose up in lazy suspension and floated away. Slowly the covering faded until only a thin layer of haze laboured over the mirror calm water. Left behind was a sparkling newness with everything damp and fresh. Together with the awakening sun a rich sensuous smell evolved that is reminiscent of long hot days alongside the river. The tableau of reeds and trees and green was now ready for the morning's events to begin.
In the margins, well away from any flow and almost disguised by thick chickweed several heads could be seen. They didn't move, as they knew they were being watched. The camouflage worked well and it was only the starey eyes that gave away the position of several large frogs. On either side, and in and out of the reed beds, hundreds upon hundreds of tadpoles wriggled away patiently waiting for the next stage of their transformation. Alas they were far from safe as the river contains numerous beings forever seeking out food for their own survival.
As the heat of the sun increased a shoal of sizeable chub zig-zagged their way along the river in the shelter of giant weed beds that cast black shadows under the surface. Highly nervous they kept to the safety of a deep channel but always alert of the need to satisfy their hunger. With their tough rubbery lips they searched for crayfish, snails or even frogs and of course tadpoles. At intervals they paused to investigate and then continued down stream as their quest for food progressed.
A flotilla of ducks came out of a gap in the sedge and launched themselves into the water. They were somewhat late to register their presence as the mist had confused them. The total peace was no more and their non-stop chatter broke the magic spell of the morning. A string of vulnerable chicks followed along behind paddling furiously to keep up. They all headed to the shallows to complete their morning toilet.
The chub were attracted by the movement of the tadpoles and caution was abandoned. They plundered away for several whole minutes. This was easy food and so it was until the ducks arrived. They too recognised the tiny froglets as important nourishment. In an instant the chub vanished but they were well satisfied. The ducks laboured in the margins all morning until no traces of the frog family remained.
The fish returned upstream and the ducks went and did what ducks do on a stifling hot day. All other life, above and below the surface, carried on as always and again the river Wissey provided an eventful day with its backdrop of beauty and glory!
By Ivor Hook