“My recollection of a hundred lovely lakes has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful.” Hamlin Garland
Lake Clearwater January 1969.
It is a still, warm night in high summer. I’m almost 13-years-old, and wearing nothing but a pair of swim shorts and a fishing shoulder bag. In my hands, a fly rod drips quietly into the lake as I retrieve a wet line to tow a Mrs Simpson through the water in hope of a trout.
The water, up to my thighs, is tepid, softer than silk, and dead calm. It’s surface feels slightly oily from the swamp gas that bubbles up from where my feet stir the marshy lakebed. Its slight old-sock smell is warm and familiar. The muddy perfume mingles with the scent of willow leaves, pine resin and tussock grass, and the spicy smell of warm dust drifting down from the high bare hills. My slow progress stirs invertebrates from the mud, which are greedily snapped up by a small school of perch darting around my bare feet. Eels, too, nose quietly through my legs, bumping soft as a mother’s kiss against my shins.
The quiet whip of my casting line barely registers against the background silence of the night. A few waterfowl, somewhere in the dark, chatter quietly in their watchful semi-sleep; a curious mix of tenor whistles and warbles, base honks and baritone quacks. If I had cared to flick on a torch it would have picked out the eyes of black swan, Canada geese, mallard, grey and paradise duck, scaup and grebes.
Peace envelops me. The predatory purpose of cast-drawn-and-re-cast fly line is rendered irrelevant. For that long still night the cares of adolescence have no more impact on me than the drip from my fly reel has on the depth of the lake they return to. I am content.
The photos in this blog represent some of the lakes that have been part of my life. Lakes, it is fair to say, form part of my soul. They are an ever-present source of peace, inspiration and beauty. They have been the playground of my childhood, the base of many adventures, a backdrop to long happy hours of family conversations, and a home to my other passion, birds . . . such wonderful birds! Long may it be so, for all of us.