Coniston Water is a bewitching place. Yesterday I got to sit on the shingle there, by the water's edge, making coffee for Karen and me on a meths stove. (I'm rather fond of that stove. It lends a ritual to the act of boiling water that leaves one relaxed and open-minded). There was virtually no wind, the sky was clear and The Old Man of Coniston filled the horizon on the far side of the lake. Its reflection in the water was slightly broken by the light breeze that moved the surface slightly. As I sat there, a heron glided past from left to right. Closer to the shore, small, circular waves kept breaking out on the surface, as if it were raining a little. The stove takes a few minutes to boil two mugs-worth of water, and nothing else seemed to happen for a while.
All of a sudden, the water surface became agitated. Not content with merely touching the surface to make their circular waves, innumerable small fish were suddenly attempting to jump out of the lake, all at the same time. I'd never seen anything like it. I could think of only one reason -later confirmed by a friend who has done some fishing- that a bigger fish like a carp or even a pike was threatening them. After several seconds, the agitation died away as quickly as it had started. Peace was restored: at least, from where I sat. Only a few feet away it was a case of “nature red in tooth and claw” but it was all happening out of sight, under the surface, and all I could see was the reflection of The Old Man.
4 years ago