TAKING TIME: to Listen to Nature.
In the ‘TAKING TIME’ series we share personal reflections on the importance of taking time for oneself, slowing down to observe nature and the environment.
The best fair weather conditions are often brief, so if you’re going to enjoy them you must be ready to down tools and make yourself available when the time comes. Over the years I’ve found that time spent outdoors can help realign your efforts in the rest of your life.
Nature’s great performances are worth witnessing and if possible engaging with. For the surfer that might be silent clean lines slamming the west coast in Autumn. For the kayaker, it may be the terrifyingly intense floods which make your favourite river come alive. For the forager, it might be harvesting some of nature’s sweet treats like elderflower, blackberries or blueberries.
For the angler, nature sends important signals to remind you to step aside from your day to day life, and go fishing. The last frosty mornings of Winter is a sign that Spring fishing for salmon is about to begin. A few weeks later April showers, sunshine and dark clouds remind you that the Spring salmon ‘run’ is now truly underway. Whitethorn in full bloom is your signal to prepare for ‘mayfly season’. And enquire if ‘the Mayfly are up’ yet. Long warm summer evenings means it is time for sedge fishing into the twilight and beyond. Heavy, lazy midsummer signals to you that it is time to try for seatrout at the coast in your flip flops. Summer floods call you to mountain rivers after the grilse (summer salmon). The almost indistinguishable turning of the countryside from green to a slightly burnt green means that the fishing season is almost over. Now there are just a few weeks left to fish everywhere you had dreamt and planned on fishing but haven’t gotten around to. The bittersweet reality that one has a limited and finite number of these unique annual periods helps focus our mind. All of these moments are but fleeting. Our memory works this way too. The end of one period signals the beginning of another.
Mayfly season has come and gone on Lough Corrib, Ireland’s premier wild brown trout fishery. Each year when I see the whitethorn in full bloom nature has sent me a reminder. Telling me that the mayfly have or are about to hatch on the great western lakes of Ireland. It is time to think about planning a trip. This May, while the whitethorn bulged with blooms, we set off to try our luck. We rented a boat and engine from Tom (Doc) Sullivan on the Dooras Peninsula near Cornamona, Co. Galway. Arriving early, before the day warmed up, we hoped that the wind would pick up so that we might have a better chance of catching a few fish…
But on this occasion that didn't happen, instead the sun shown hard for most of the day. For a brief period after lunch, the wind rose and the lake darkened, things were looking up. We begin to rise a few fish, but alas the trout only splashed at our flies, never taking them. And then the sun returned and before we knew it, it was time to call it a day and begin our journey home. Fishing is a perfect vehicle for learning about nature, the weather, water safety and picnics. I enjoy being on the water, having lunch on the islands, for me catching fish is a bonus.
When I fish I am not searching for inspiration. I am present in the moment, I’m thinking about cloud cover, wind direction, dept of water and about where to position our boat next to cover a likely drift. But it is true that time away from the desk or the workshop, immersed in nature is often the catalyst for a breakthrough or a new perspective in the days that follow. I return form a fishing trip recharged and invigorated. Time on or in the water helps realign something in me. This regular ‘topping up’ of my exposure to nature, fuels me. I am satisfied that I am not letting the seasons pass me by I am satisfied that I am not letting life pass me by. I have stepped into the water, and it has somehow stepped into me. There is a saying in Ireland, ‘you can take the man out of the bog but you can’t take the bog out of the man’. That saying is normally used in a derogatory sense but I’d like to think that I carry a little bit of nature with me always. Tight lines.
Below are a some photos of days when we did encounter beautiful wild brown trout.