The stream looks calm, no ripple disturbs the surface. As if viewed in a mirror, images of the banks and wide sky form exact portraits of the landscape without the need of artist’s brush or photographer’s lens. The beauty of the scene is of no concern to you though.
It is Autumn and the waters of the brook are swollen after the first seasonal rains. Intuition tells you that changes will be taking place within the recent torrent. Now-placid and canal-like. This could be what you have been waiting for. From your pocket you take a jam-jar, emptied of it’s sticky contents, label removed and ready for use.
Three feet below the water’s surface the annual miracle has started. If, like some Old Testament miracle, the waters were to part, you would be able to witness an amazing spectacle.
Not trusting to any help from Moses your jam-jar will be required. Cautiously approaching the water’s edge you lie face down and place the jar on the surface. All the action is now laid bare to your eyes.
Before your eyes activity hidden from view is revealed. You are able to glimpse the private love act of salmo salar, the Atlantic salmon.
After years spent cruising the Atlantic ocean male fish known as jacks have answered an uncontrollable urge to return to their birthplace. The increasing depth of water due to rain has enabled them to make their way up small rivulets. On their way the urge is so strong that they have no time to eat. Sea-lice has caused their scales to turn from fresh silver to a chalky white as they shrink and fall to the riverbed. Acquiring a deep blushing red the jaws resemble elongated hooks making the act of eating impossible anyway.
Females have laid millions of eggs in scrapes on the gravel beds and as the males release their milt it forms opaque clouds before settling on the eggs ready to fertilise and start the new life necessary for the success of the species.
All this is revealed as you lean over the water’s edge with the jar resting on the surface.
You take the jar and leave the fish to their devices’ knowing that within a few days with little rain the waters will return to their shallow state. Returning to the brook you will see many salmon stranded and dying, their work done. Their bodies forming a bonanza feast for the local wildlife.
Meanwhile within the stream the fry will hatch and soon be swimming, ready to face the trials of life and begin the cycle once more