More fascinating tales from the banks of The River Wissey
The sky was grey and the trees black. A giant wave of rooks soared and played high in the wind. Sweeping low and then up they searched for new pockets of air. The rookery was resident in the tall towering oaks where the many nests rocked and swayed in continuous motion. Beneath the stark trees ran the course of the faithful river Wissey looking distinctly cold and unwelcoming. Apart from the rooks there was no other sign of life for all remaining creatures of fur and feather were still in a state of seasonal sleep.
The rooks landed as one in a nearby field and commenced their search of bugs and grubs. Their jerky walk, reminiscent of long ago black and white films, slowly took them from one end of the field to the other. Then without signal, and again as one body, they took to flight and continued their display of grand aerobatics. The noise of caw and high pitched chat came and went as their gliding took them this way and that. Finally a strong gust sent them tumbling away at speed and they disappeared completely out of sight!
The day was a definite nothing day. A lack of green below or blue above left much to be desired. An icy chill in the wind together with the legacy of a hard frost had cast a miserable spell all about. Any person with a desire to venture out would soon discover paths of sticky mud and age-old puddles to counter their good intentions.
Deep within the river was a similar story of darkness with very little happening. In truth the only movement was a knot of intertwined lengths stirring the mud. Something had triggered a family of eels to choose this very day to stretch and unwind themselves. Having parted their locked bodies they slowly proceeded along the river bed in a long fragmented line. Thus following the deepest channels and weaving between obstacles they journeyed upstream. The nature of their mission was unclear, perhaps even to themselves, and thus they reached the submerged remains of a spent tree. The tree formed a break and a barrier from the current and here the eels contemplated and finally stopped. Beneath this precarious shelter and with a many manoeuvres the family resumed their winter sleep and no doubt so they will remain for another long period of time.
Then came a complete surprise. The brilliant white shape of a barn owl glided low and slow following the contours of the river. It mattered not to him that it was day and in truth the surroundings could easily have been night. His colour shone bright in the gloom. He choose a nearby gatepost for a perch. His glow became the focus of all about. Statue-like he remained for several minutes and then without any movement of the body his head turned and surveyed all points of the compass and back again. Alas there was nothing to be seen or even sensed and so he stayed in this state of stillness for almost a circle of the clock.
Despite his inaction his presence provided a noticeable change. There was now a glow of good cheer. The kingdom of dark and grey was no more. Then, but still without haste, he launched himself and faded away leaving behind a reassurance that the world of Mother Nature is not forgotten. Soon everything will reawaken. Dormant families will reappear. Trees and hedgerows will be brought to bud and great volumes of growth will fill the countryside as if by magic. Life in the river will be back as we best enjoy and colour will bring happiness with the sun to warm. Such fond days are now remembered and the coming of spring will be worth the long wait!!
By Ivor Hook