Another charming tale from the banks of the River Wissey
It is bright but there is little warmth. The sun struggles to clear the distant tree line and no longer reaches the apex of summer. A slight breeze has a distinct chill and the forecast a threat of high winds - perhaps even gales to follow. The days are shorter and the hours of darkness longer. At last real autumn has arrived and coats and scarves must be remembered!
The new season still shows a predominance of green but change is afoot. Within weeks the colours will travel the spectrum again and end as browns or reds. Nature's colours are always chameleon and mirror the mood and time of the year. The chestnut has already changed to auburn and shed its leaves for it is always at the front. Others will now follow and leave behind thick drifts to provide the earth with a blanket of warmth for the months ahead. The oak will be the reluctant last whereupon new shapes evolve as the eye sees through and is no longer stopped by great volumes. Exposed will be an intricate network of trunks and branches and twigs all left bare to suffer the hardship of frosts and low temperatures.
Always reliable the river Wissey runs its course but it too is changing. Its level is high and the flow is fast. The prolific weed beds of summer are flagging to eventually fade and be swept away. Already strong currents clean the bottom of debris because Mother Nature is good at housekeeping! Our many silver fish have begun their annual shoaling and now seek refuge in deeper and thus warmer stretches. The friendly tench, forever associated with hot summer mornings, is ready to begin his state of hibernation in the mud. There he will stay till the calling of spring. However certain fish never slow. They are my dear friends the pike who forever remain wide awake! Their fierce appetites force them to patrol both new and old thoroughfares. With the seasonal lack of prey they travel far and wide - which ironically increases their hunger, so they will never win! Likewise the winter fisherman is stirring and during the weeks ahead will start his own game of hide and seek.
For the birds and wildfowl it is also a busy time as great numbers leave and others arrive. Numerous flights assemble to return to those far away places we only dream about. With them will disappear the dawn chorus and leave only the solitary robin to provide our wake up call. Conversely we wait and watch for the many wildfowl for they do things the opposite way round. Our permanent residency of geese and ducks will then be forced to share the waterways with their foreign counter-parts and for sure the inevitable confrontations will destroy any peace and quiet for months ahead
At ground level many animals are also making ready. They search for cosy holes and crannies to hide away to escape the discomfort of winter. They gather up and store away provisions and may have one more burst of energy before they eventually disappear. Those more hardy will slip into bottom gear and become less active to just poke out a nose on a really warm afternoon. Lazy days and long holidays are the prospect for most!
The family of nature is well rehearsed with winter preparations. Some use up so much energy that it is easy to understand the need for sleep thereafter! Sadly some of our own kind despair at the prospect of the months ahead but they too must follow instinct and cosy up. For others it is a time of expectation with new and different things to see and enjoy. We all have our favourite season and for me the cold and wet and the mud and rain is best of all with its pike fishing just waiting to be enjoyed.
By Ivor Hook