The Thing about Water. Words & picture by Nick Small.
Looking at a scene like this, the thinker, the artist, the photographer, the writer in me is consumed by reflection: reflection of light, of big sky, of the beauty we are privileged to indulge ourselves in and, thanks to the tranquillity the scene evokes, reflection also of the day’s events, mortality or some tiff over the cost of a mere bauble. Drifting on the water, chilled, looking deliberately away from the reluctantly setting sun, it is the barely flexing surface and the infinite space above it that seduces the imagination.
The angler though is otherwise engaged. Beneath that slightly distorted sky, in a dimension invisible to the naked eye, is another world. Limitless depths play host to nutrients and currents, layers of life, weeds and reeds, submerged vaults rich with shrimp, the sinking hoards of deceased insects and the emerging larvae of those yet to flex their wings. In this dark, unfathomable cosmos there’s a universe as bewildering in its complexity as that in the heavens beyond the clouds above. And there are fish. From the humble Roach, to the gargantuan she Pike nestling along those shores: millions of largely untouchable lives that will never collide in that infinitesimal space at the tip of a barbless hook, with ours.
The big questions aren’t “What is the meaning of life?” and “How big is the Universe?” No, they are “Have any of the 2,500 trout introduced two years ago survived the onslaught of Pike and Perch?” and “Are there really any Arctic Char in here?”