End of Season Reflections of a Female Gillie. By Glenda PowellAuthor: Ian Powell | Posted: 11/14/2008
There’s something about this time of year when I look back and reflect with sadness that yet another season has come to a close. Yes of course I will admit that there is a certain amount of relief that we have come to the end, but I have lived, breathed and fed on the river for the last eight months.
I have watched the leaves appear on the naked trees, grow strong and healthy, then wither and die. I have witnessed the wheat being planted and seen it grow inch by inch; watched it dance in the summer winds and then harvested to leave bare stubble in the fields. I have hand-fed the robin and her chicks which have long fledged and flown far from me to find homes for themselves.
Eight months of living with raw nature; days and seasons rolling into each other, wearing waders through the wind, the sun and the rain. I could have been a thousand miles from nowhere, coming home only when darkness forced it upon me. Oh there have been days when I wished that I could spend a little bit more time with my children, and the normal guilty mother syndrome has often tugged at my heart; however going to the beach does not interest me.
I am a Tolkien character better suited to the rivers, forests and mountains. The children and I have had some fantastic nights camping on the river bank this summer. We have had the camp fires with their friends and been fishing at dawn. There have been times spent dreaming of that manicure when my fingers start to bleed from being out in all weathers, or that overdue hair cut, or to watch just one episode of CSI but……….
It’s finished, over for another year. It’s the end of a very successful fishing and teaching season, and I ask myself: what am I going to do now?
Some people think that I am about to head off to the sun for a well-deserved break or sleep for the next four months, but I am a wife and a mother with two beautiful children to rear and to teach.
I have lots of projects which need to be finished, and some exciting new ideas floating around in my head which need to be addressed. I have the normal cleaning and redecorating parts of the lodge, and the huge summer floods have swept away lots of steps and banks which are in need of winter attention. We have plans for this but first…….I need to find the wood on my desk in the office which has been buried beneath a mountain of paperwork and to-dos, left to one side with good meaning and best intentions. But this wood is different from the wood that I have known. It has been moulded by human hands, smoothed, pieced together and redesigned into something quite foreign to me. I am a fisherwoman who is used to nature’s rough hewn bark left open to the changing weather of the seasons.
I took my children to their swimming lessons on the 1st of October - the first day of our closed season. We arrived with plenty of time for their afternoon lesson. I was excited to be part of their daily lives and to be there to encourage them in their achievements. I took them to the changing rooms to get them ready for their lesson and watched them as they waved to me before entering the pool.
Soon they were submerged in what they were doing. I went to the viewing room to watch them. I entered, looked around at the rest of the mothers happily talking in their separate groups. I realized quickly that I was not going to be part of any of their conversations – and why should I expect to? I have been absent for eight months and completely out of touch with who is doing what, and when. In truth though, can I stomach a conversation about nappies, toilet training or teething at this moment in time? Don’t we all learn how to use the toilet, and get our teeth eventually? Do I want to participate in the weekly coffee morning rota, or discuss different diet plans? I look around and quickly decide to leave; I didn’t want to make it too obvious that I was feeling completely antisocial and out of touch.
My exit was the front door of the swimming pool and that is exactly where I was headed for. Whilst outside I realised that I had 40 minutes to spare before the children needed help with dressing. What was I going to do? Next week I will definitely bring my gym clothes and hide there doing something worthwhile, but right then, re-entering the building was not an option.
I stood still and alone for the first time in months. In front of me I could see and hear the N8 with the rumbles of the lorries which had avoided paying the toll on the Fermoy bypass. There are tall buildings behind the road, buildings to the right and to the left and concrete under my feet. I realised suddenly that this is to be my life for the next four months. I have been here many times before, and I must adjust. And I will with time. But there is a resistance to leave what I have come to know.
The next day I again avoid finding the wood on my desk and leave it buried beneath the paperwork. I decide that another day of procrastination would be good for me. I go to Cork airport to DHL, to courier the last of the smoked salmon to our overseas guests. There is also a hidden agenda. To get to the airport you have to pass Mahon Point – a large shopping mall on the Cork ring road - and I have decided to pop in on the way home for a spot of overdue retail therapy, haircut and manicure…...
I park with the other thousand cars in the car park. The only difference is that theirs is clean, mine could have nettles growing from the running board after such a busy season and I still have the fishing rods in the boot. I am wearing my normal comfy clothes, with little makeup as I approach the entrance.
I enter and am immediately swept up in the hussle and bustle of a busy shopping centre. All around me are shiny surfaces, fake marble floors, the smell of a hundred mixed up perfumes, people hurrying to and fro and noise coming from all directions - noise which is very different to the sound of my robin.
I opt for the coffee bar first, to acclimatise, and I order my cappuccino. It arrives in a white porcelain cup accompanied with saucer and complimentary biscuit. I sink into a black leather sofa – but oh how I miss the grass, the Kelly Kettle and the steel mugs instead! I sit and watch. I love watching people, have you ever sat and watched and wondered what their lives are like?
Gucci, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike. Little girls with pink bows and pierced ears being pushed in McClaren buggies by mothers with long red fingernails, immaculate highlighted hairstyles and heels which could not possibly be comfortable. Business men in their designer suits and briefcases to match, doing business over coffee. The fake laughs and the ‘How’s your Uncle Bob keeping?’ type of conversations which go on when someone is trying to sell you something.
I go to Next and buy the essentials for the children, enter Monsoon for a quick look around for something nice for myself. I stare at the dresses, shoes and handbags and I realize that it is too soon, much too soon. It has only been two days and I am not ready yet. I quickly leave and make my way home, back to the river, the green fields and trees, away from this urban concrete jungle which I don’t understand or feel safe in.
I know by now that there is only one cure for my symptoms and that is to cast. I grab my rod with my piece of wool and I go to my casting platform at my river office. The wind already blows colder, but here I know I am safe. I often see a glimpse of silver as a salmon makes her way up river to spawn, the scuffle of the otter in its search for food, and my feathered friend, with his red breasted suit is always there if needed to offer me company and a song.
Glenda is proprietress of Ireland's Blackwater Lodge & Salmon Fishery. For more information on her guiding & tuition activities, please go to http://www.ireland-salmon-fishing.net/Tuition/Tuition.htm
About The Author: Ian Powell
Company: Blackwater Lodge & Salmon Fishery
Area Reporting: Cork Blackwater river in Southern Ireland
Bio: Ian is proprietor of Ireland's premier salmon fishing lodge with his wife Glenda (APGAI-IRL Salmon & Trout) – Europe’s highest qualified female fly-casting instructor & Emerald World Masters Ladies Salmon Distance champion.