I walked down to the river
In the glinting low light
And it shimmered and slipped
Silk like over its bed of rocks.
The sunlight spun into threads
By the long wet fingers of the river
Woven into loose lace nets
And spread across the stones
Right there in the tumbling foam
Salmon fresh from salty waves
Scattering silver scales
Running homewards against the flow.
Invisible clues tug at the memory
Scent guiding movement
Along ripple runs and rapids
Generation after generation
It’s been so dry in this part of Scotland over the spring and summer that the rivers have all been running very low. Reduced to silvery trickles over the smooth stones of the river beds. The salmon and trout returning to run up river to the spawning pools have been stuck in the estuaries, biding their time. Now that the rain has come, the rivers have swollen, and the fish are running in waves up the waterfalls and weirs. We watched as fish after fish threw themselves up out of the water, leaping again and again, falling back onto the rocks exhausted. Herons had gathered like vultures looking for an easy meal. It’s an amazing spectacle, and of course I didn’t catch a shot of my best sighting. A huge pink and copper male leaped right out of the river, standing on his own tail, nose skywards a few yards from the bank. He seemed to stand still, his black eye full of tales of the deep ocean, he looked right through me before falling back with a dramatic silver splash. To keep trying seems to be the lesson of the salmon. To persevere despite the highest obstacles.
No need for a shot of the magical salmon as your description was so vivid and lovely, Seonaid.
Your words take us there – again wonderfully come together!
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Quiet brilliant shots the salmon climbing shows real timing
Thanks Scott….it took me a while, and a great many missed shots!
yes but when you get it right – that equals satisfaction.
So true 🙂
Fingers of the river … Bow. Very nice images of the water and the rocks.
Thanks Rommel…..the light was gorgeous that day, peeping between clouds, and the words just spilled out 🙂
You described your “best sighting” so well, painting the picture in words, that you don’t need a photo for it. Gorgeous post. Rich with color and verse. What a spectacular sight it must be, to watch the salmon returning.
Thats great to hear Robin, and as Cara said perhaps I would have missed the glint in his eye had I been stuck behind my lens 🙂
Spectacular photos and your verse suits it so well, beautiful play with words
Thank you , delighted you enjoyed the playful words 🙂
What a beautiful post altogether, Seonaid – those colours on the water are amazing. And the whole post has such wonderful light. You must have been thrilled to capture that salmon, even if you missed getting a shot of that great pink and copper creature leaping from the river. If you had been trying to capture him you might have missed the impact of his gaze.
Thats so true Cara, perhaps that moment was best caught with my mind rather than my camera! What a glorious autumn we’ve been having….the light has been beautiful.
What a thrill to watch these salmon do what they have done since ancient times, driven by their ancestral memory. Loved your poetic storytelling!
Thanks Annette, that ancestral memory is an amazing thing….hence I suppose their Celtic title….salmon of wisdom! Delighted you enjoyed the story. Great praise coming from such a lovely weaver of words as yourself 🙂
Some very quick reactions on the shutter! We get the same show as the salmon negotiate the weir beneath Hexham road bridge but they are such fleeting appearances I haven’t tried to capture them – your post will prompt me to give it a go. Excellent words and images as ever and thanks for the inspiration.
Its such a cool thing to witness, and of course the weirs and waterfalls are the perfect viewing spots….although hard work for the fish 🙂
I set my camera to a very fast shutter speed and reeled of a run of shots when I saw them jump….but I missed lots. Great fun trying though….looking forward to seeing yours 🙂
That must have been amazing to see. There are so many dams in the USA that a sight like that is beyond rare. In places where old dams have been removed, however, the salmon quickly return. I hope we can see more progress of dam removal in coming years to help restore the salmon as well as other former fish of our previously wild flowing rivers.
Its such a shame to loose the salmon because of pur needs for power. Lots of our rivers had weirs…sort of like dams…built in to run mills 100 or so years ago. Lots of the weirs are still there like the one you see the salmon leaping up, but they have had fish ladders built to help the fish climb!
We have many fish ladders on our dams as well, but they do little to reduce the impact, unfortunately. Time will tell!
‘The sunlight spun into threads…’ Such evocative, elegant sentences. You make me feel I was there with you. Your words and images are not just simply beautiful, I feel the will and the strength of the salmon. Mindfulness personified perhaps? 🙂 Thank you for a lovely post.
Rachael this is such a lovely comment, its wonderful to know my passion came across through my words. I really was willing each fish to succeed in its jump, and wishing them a safe journey back to the breeding pools. Mindfulness does help creativity I feel, really taking us into the experience of the moment 🙂
an amazing read, was like experiencing it oneself. The teaching of the salmon, love it!
Traditionally in Scotland they are called the salmon of wisdom, holding the answers to everything….and considered far older than man! Delighted my love and awe of these creatures came through in the post Hanne.
I’ve read about it in Celtic lore and I’m always fascinated by how we can learn so much from listen and observe nature.
What an amazing sight – strangely enough I came on line to post images of a waterfall too. We don’t get salmon leaping up the falls here but for a couple of weeks in the summer it is possible to see eels crawling up the falls on their way to their breeding grounds.
Eels sound pretty cool to watch swimming upstream too Suzanne. Isnt nature incredible….and waterfalls always make for wonderful shots 🙂
What amazing captures Seonaid. Its incredible that they make it up river against such physical odds, but its the ancestral memories that bring them home that I find most fascinating.
Delighted you enjoyed the photos Gilly. I sat patiently for ages to catch them, but I got so excited when they jumped I missed lots of them 🙂
I’ve always had a fascination and admiration for these incredible creatures…..as Im certain you know they are traditionally seen as embodying wisdom in the Celtic tradition. They are also one of the mythical ‘oldest animals’…..with much to teach 🙂
Beautiful! I was nodding my head along with Gwynn’s comments above regarding the similarities between our two areas. It sounds like she lives pretty close to me. 🙂
Well I think you are both very lucky….it sounds wonderful and quite familiar in a way. No wonder the Scottish emmigrants felt at home over there 🙂
Magical photos, Seonaid. You are surrounded by such great beauty. 🙂
We are lucky, but you have some lovely natural beauty around your new home…..im thinking of that lovely river bend right outside your windows. How is the renovation coming along?
As well as can be expected under the circumstances. Hubby is doing a sterling job. 🙂
Looking forward to seeing the progress on your blog….and by the way I think your husband is a keeper….you dont get great ones like that coming along very often 🙂
Thanks Bruce. Isnt nature amazing 🙂
What an amazing thing to see and I love the shot of the salmon! A really great lesson to learn from the salmon. Thank you.
Its a great sight, which gets me excited to watch it every year. As Sarah commented earlier you end up cheering them on, willing them to make it up and over on their next attempt!
Fascinating captures of the light, water, and salmon! What a view from your backyard, Seonaid!
Thanks Amy, these shots are taken just down the road from the house….a regular dog walk 🙂
Envious, Seonaid 🙂
Its amazing whats out there when we go looking with open eyes 🙂
What a fascinating thing to be able to watch in your back yard! The water is beautifully clear … a sure sign, along with the running salmon, that your local habitat is healthy and thriving. You are indeed lucky. D
Its an amzing sight for certain David, and its lovely to know that the numbers of salmon, which have been in decline for a few years now, might actually be begining to recover. They do lots of catch and release fishing now on these rivers….especially during spawning, which Im certain will be helping the numbers recover. We get otters and kingfishers too, which are also great indicators of good water quality 🙂
Otters! Don’t tell Joanna or she’ll be moving to Scotland within the week! She absolutely is in love with Otters. One of here recent book favorites is once called Otter Country, In Search of the Wild Otter by Miriam Darlington. Have you read it? D
Nope, but I like the sound of it 🙂
Wonderful photos!The return of the salmon is an event of pure magic. Thank you!
Its one if my favorite things about autumn….as you say pure magic.
Wonderful words and images Seonaid 🙂 This brought back memories of watching the salmon leaping at The Hermitage about 10yrs ago after a family wedding in Perthshire! Stunning place 🙂
The Hermitage is a favourite of mine Sarah, and such a magical setting. That’s where I took the shots of the black pools in my new year post 🙂
It would be a great place to spot the salmon….I get so excited when one jumps, it’s somehow such a thrill!
Oh I loved those photos! I remember not being able to explore the area well because of my mobility issues. I didn’t have my electric wheelchair with me but I’m not sure if the pathways would be suitable. It’s a place I desperately want to visit again! The whole family was utterly entranced watching the salmon, it really is exciting, you hold your breath waiting to see if they make it.
I did clamber down over the rocks to catch those shots, but certainly the first part of the path leading to the falls and the viewing platform would be wheelchair friendly 🙂
Awesome 🙂 I really must get back up to Perthshire sometime. I just loved it!
Magnificent photos. Magical salmon.
They really are so magical arent they. Delighted you liked the photos 🙂
As always I love your fascinating and colorful photography. I think that salmon was working to escape you as well as the heron. Here in the NW, I live on an inlet and watching the salmon spawn is like watching corn pop out of the basket. The fish fly all over the place as fisherman attempt to lure them into their boats. Sadly, the fly fisherman would do better using butterfly nets so they could swoop the fish out of the air as they leap out of the water. The salmon here dodge eagles, osprey, heron, and seagulls. Thank you for your fabulous pictures and descriptive wording.
Delighted you enjoyed these photos Gwynn. I suspect that our salmon runs are far less spectacular than yours, but its still an awe inspiring sight. The numbers here are on a steady decline unfortunately, and only now are they starting to research why. There seems to be so many similarities between your place on the globe and mine 🙂
The difference between Washington State and Scotland is the wealth of history. Compared to your country we are still in the infant stage. However, if you were on the coast, in the mountains, or hiking up along side a stream I think there would be few differences. Nature wise, we are the same age. Go to my blog, in the A – Z section and look at “W.” You will see a couple pictures of Poulsbo and “NO” I didn’t take the pictures, unfortunately.
So true, and I guess thats what I sense when reading your comments and your blog…..same nature different history!
Spectacular shots Seonaid. I particularly love the second one with the sunlight creating a “light painting” in the clear, clear water. Best wishes 🙂
Thanks Andrew, moving water, glittering light and running salmon all make for elusive subjects…..its great when it all comes together. Light painting is a great phrase for this 🙂
Oh, this was lovely! Your verse is beautifully written; I especially love the lines, ‘the sunlight spun into threads/ by the long wet fingers of the river.’ Divine!
Thank you Grace, the light does wonderful things at this time of year….all very inspiring 🙂