Caught by the River

Letter From Arcadia

Dexter Petley | 17th October 2009

Last of the Few

has a pike got your tongue? the geese came by the other night, high as the stars, bringing news of the first frosts, and maybe the first cast of arcadia’s pike bung. just a whisper from the trebles in a north east blaster. nothing with your name on. the season’s changed since when i last had word from you. the weeks when every time you opened the door at night you got a face full of daddy longlegs. and the drought came to an end with a tidal wave of rain. the car became a surfboard, then a bathescope with a view. fields left and right sludged into the lanes, topsoils like sliding doors. the mushrooms have begun their show, shy to be seen but bold when spotted, deciding on perfection this year to compensate for the last few lean years:


the hops have bushelled:


and the apples are in the cidermens’ bags already, felled in a storm from dresden. it’s the fruitful side of autumn,
those cold, early nights on the pits have begun with pheasants roosting in the trees beside me and hunters popping in the gloom of last knockings. hares bolt across newly ploughed fields and the plovers mass with the sowing of winter wheat. cormorants take up roost in the poplars. they gob down pound roach then shite fish- paste from their branches 60 feet up, which i mistake for jumping carp as it hits the water. in the forests the chestnuts are champions this year, fat brown thumbnails ripe for the hearth. the blackberries linger with the sloes; there must be an adage for that. you’ll find out around christmas. this year the holly has berries and the oaks have apples. nature making up the defecit again.

the carp too are on the same wavelength as the unjugged hares and the specimen chestnuts. that heartbreak pit mirror from my last arcadia, it came back for me two weeks later, gloves off, been sparring, lonsdale contender this time at 37:


a week off winter now, the rain collected in my wheelbarrow froze three inches thick the other night. i was on heartbreak, thought it was cold, fishing in the jagged teeth of a bitter snorter, acid in the face wind, just not enough clothes in the rucksack to stick it out after half eight. the moon stayed down like a snagged luminous float. i’d moved off the stony plateau and had three rods in the deeper water, silt gulley off a snaggy bar. decided to pack it in, go home and light the stove, fish soup, rouille and croutons, a 3 litre box of merlot, bar of chocolate, let the cat in… i hesitated on the left hand rod, deciding to reel in the right hand first. bent over it to switch off the buzzer. one beep on the right hand rod and it tore off a streak. wind and killer spit sang in the line, this carp had the same idea as me and must’ve already had its feet up. a true leather, no trace of a scale, just old ridged scars long leathered over like a victorian writing desk, came in like a shammy in a window cleaner’s bucket.


drop me a line; anti-clockwise thermos on the birdtable