Running Salmon

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.


About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
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66 Responses to Running Salmon

  1. Sharon K. says:

    No need for a shot of the magical salmon as your description was so vivid and lovely, Seonaid.

  2. Leya says:

    Your words take us there – again wonderfully come together!

  3. Pingback: Travel theme: Autumn | northumbrian : light

  4. Quiet brilliant shots the salmon climbing shows real timing

  5. rommel says:

    Fingers of the river … Bow. Very nice images of the water and the rocks.

  6. Robin says:

    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.

  7. pommepal says:

    Spectacular photos and your verse suits it so well, beautiful play with words

  8. 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.

  9. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
      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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Hazel Stark says:

    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!

  12. Rachael Charmley says:

    ‘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? ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. an amazing read, was like experiencing it oneself. The teaching of the salmon, love it!

  14. Suzanne says:

    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.

  15. Lucid Gypsy says:

    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 ๐Ÿ™‚
      I’ve always had a fascination and admiration for these incredible creatures… 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Magical photos, Seonaid. You are surrounded by such great beauty. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. 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!

  19. Amy says:

    Fascinating captures of the light, water, and salmon! What a view from your backyard, Seonaid!

  20. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Wonderful photos!The return of the salmon is an event of pure magic. Thank you!

  22. Wonderful words and images Seonaid ๐Ÿ™‚ This brought back memories of watching the salmon leaping at The Hermitage about 10yrs ago after a family wedding in Perthshire! Stunning place ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
      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 ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ I really must get back up to Perthshire sometime. I just loved it!

  23. gwynnrogers says:

    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 ๐Ÿ™‚

      • gwynnrogers says:

        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!

  24. Andrew Seal says:

    Spectacular shots Seonaid. I particularly love the second one with the sunlight creating a “light painting” in the clear, clear water. Best wishes ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Grace says:

    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!

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