Season closed now in France, and we move into grayling time on Eden. Strange year; contrasts, as always, but this year, so marked. The further degradation of Eden at the hand of ruthless, unfettered, agricultural activity. Pretty soon now, two or three years maybe, we are going to move into the next phase. Call it what it is – destruction, all for the sake of unsustainable agriculture profiting the few. Really, just the few. It sure doesn’t profit most of us, or the wildlife and multiple habitats that are being wiped out. Last Dance. This madness that has enveloped my country, this war we have with nature, such that entire ecosystems are allowed to degrade because of the utterly dismal, brutal escalation of intensive cattle and pig units and sheep grazing on a scale that beggars belief. You don’t notice it, perhaps because the stench of Cumbria has not pervaded as far as where you are. But it will, finally, and also the misery of the modern cattle or pig unit and the degradation of landscape, as awful as the degrading of the human soul that parallels our complicity with such fathomless cruelty.
And yet the utter joy of seeing the saving of rivers, of habitats, of sustainability, and kinder by far, just the other side of the Channel. It is like living two lives, but it feels the wrong way around. I want to be so proud of my country, my time, but I am not. I look to Europe, while I am still a European, and, oh God, the contrasts. The wrong way. What a terrible mistake we are making. And you know, the only difference between us, most of us: it’s just a matter of when we admit it to ourselves. Just a matter of when.
Eden in its death throes: the spring brought us phenomenal, really, phenomenal, big trout, hunting alone out there. The last. They are the only ones that can survive the continuous silt and slurry pollution. Diminished hatches, but hatches all the same, in shrunken waters, and the desperate trout up at them. There were idiots out there, of course, catching these hapless bastions of Eden, and displaying them for our pathetic egos. It was too easy. It is also the way all rivers die. There were so few juveniles, either trout or grayling. Last Dance. The summer brought on the black gnats, and the hatchling trout and grayling came up at them, while the cormorants reaped, clearing out yet more of the adults, before the rain returned to wash in the farm poisons, and the top soil, and diminish the fish and invertebrate populations. I can scarcely comprehend our arrogant stupidity. And to think that anything, anything at all, could be better when we petulantly slap the face of the Europe that gave us so much to protect us from ourselves. Just a matter of time before we all admit to it.
And now, Free Falling, Tom, into the fall, the autumn. Some of my pals are on the San, at a sane edge of Europe, among properly protected forest and an enormous river basin. There are wolves there, and beavers, bison and bears, and trout and grayling, plundering blue winged olive hatches you cannot possibly imagine. Eden; it might not have been so big, but it was equally as valuable, precious, in the context of my country.