Darjeeling & When Not To Fish


I hesitate, fly line coiled at my feet, ready for the cast.

It is beautiful. The pool is beautiful. Hauntingly so. The picture is perfect, so vibrant yet in the same measure so subtle that no photograph could ever tell its story. 

Reduction to two dimensions would speak not of the damp air of spring, of the curious sensation of being warmed by the sun, yet cooled by the river. Only the senses can marvel at the swallows. Perhaps a hundred or more, never colliding, always diving, swooping, soaring, passing low and fast over the river to snatch newly hatched olives that spin like miniature weather vanes on the glassy surface, hostage always to the eddying breeze. 

The hedgerow is scented in a foam of hawthorn flower, and cows low in the milking shed, in this land of milk and of honey.   

Under the alder that clings to the island I can see a dark shape. It’s a fish. I wasn’t sure at first but as I look, I see the sideways movement of a feeding trout, alert and poised, but keeping out of the main flow, staying safe beneath the alder. A steady trickle of olives, like raindrops in reverse, and the trout, a big fish, moves across, tipping a big spotted snout, sipping supper down.

Casting a line onto the pool is to shatter its precious image. Catching the trout cannot add to the beauty. Instead I would be named as intruder and no longer a privileged guest. I choose not to fish. Not here. There are other pools, other fish.

Darjeeling May 2021