Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections – Dexter Petley

18th December 2012

january – caught by the reaper, like the old grey goose, my vintage land rover without whom life in the mud has become untenable.

february – when the sunsets bled smelten orange over snow and water dripping from a boiling kettle froze instantly on my wooden floor, the crocuses pinned their scarlet badges to a suntrap.

march – the morning sun rose over the tree tops at last, glinting on the coffee pot, first outdoor breakfast of the year.

april – chancing a new water on the endangered list. but what carp there were. bathescopes all. seven 40s when the lamb went out.

may – the comfrey month. a french village phonebox on the way to the lake, abandoned to undergrowth, still in working order.

june – walker’s pitch, 11pm, about to call it a blank in a hair dryer heatwave when line begins ticking off the spool. lake record, 58.8lbs.

july – at the next heatwave, sitting naked with laure in the river seine as the rod tops wearied of nodding with the flow, a monarch of the glen turned full antlers ahead and swam the two hundred metres across the river towards us, straight as a die, clambered from the shallows and set off across the scub like a reindeer homesick for frozen tundra.

august – blanks on boating lakes, last rites for the potager, and when buj’s mum goes to the reaper, his brother finds a drawing of mine in her effects; “sunday cricket on hawkhurst moor, august xxvii 1973.”

september – the ritual of firewood, hoisting the first log on the sawhorse like winter was a ship we have to launch and bless.

october – when rainbows welded over the bivvy and floating lakes of spider web flooded grassland, in the forest as the bracken died back, the first baskets of the year were all the colours of.

november – green kettle whistling on the colemans beside the rods. after a hot mug in the hands, the shock of a cold blooded winter carp at last knockings.

december – skeins of geese fly southern bound against red skies. they honk out songs of travel. we rest our baskets of chanterelles, laure and i, to gaze up in gratitude. these last visitors to 2012 are leaving it a better place than it began.