Caught by the River

Letter From Arcadia

Dexter Petley | 24th November 2009

Penny Buns at Ease.


sad times indeed, when the like of mr rickards is taken by the black pike. your obituary is tolling round the french hills, it being pike time in the pools and the ossuaries. rods inverted. cane denis pye 78s snapped over the knee; beanie off to the man who gave “the fishing box” an honoured review on fishingmagic – i’m just pleased he was still alive to read it and find his kindred spirit in najard the great piker.

the autumn is slow to kill off much else this year. a ream of tempests, the barometer needle jammed at the bottom the last three weeks of clemency. i note that in your last arcadia a swarm of harlequins made a chineese wedding of your threshold. almost to the minute i was fishing the final day of indian summer down in the wooded pool, poised to make the last cast of october when the spool turned red and my t-shirt looked peppered from a twelve bore firing miniature mushroom pellets. beswarmed in lady birds. i’ve seen them nest in stephane’s kitchen. i have them overwintering in every crease of sprout in the garden. hookless mepps or pixie paper weights, another tryphid from the garden centres.

i did cast, a guess even in polorised glare, harlequins bursting off the spool or shooting through the rings; the lead clipped a bush and went down hard in a sure spot. for once the cup of tea on the knee produced a tick-tock slow lift on the bobbin. 27lbs of sunny snaps:


my annual mushroom bulletin has been postponed due to an explosion, a mushroom cloud over the forest, whicker stretcher bearers carrying away the severed ranks to bag up and stock in the upright mortuary, the good white pike in the cellar:


it was prophesied. swarming cepes, isaiah the fly-agaric, ezekial’s vision: the oak tree roots were conveyer belts of cepes, the portly bordeaux, penny buns unsullied by maggot or beetle. the long hot summer, a good september rain, an early fall; the optimum for mycological abundence.
…We are so many…
We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.

(Sylvia Plath, Mushrooms)

and then, as if the mushrooms had been indiscreet, there were poppies actually in flower in the muddy ridges on remembrance day, cepes to attention opposite, tin hats on.

as i write, november gales knocking on the stove pipe, the caravan takes a pasting. winter on arse pit has begun with a string of blanks already. last one should’ve had a pot:

i hear you’re going fishing friday. the french say merde instead of tight lines. will it be pike? the wind has knocked my bird table over, snapped the post at ground level.

vive la birdtable