For want of anything better to paint, and rather lacking in inspiration at art group last Friday, I resorted to doing a watercolour of the Usk from a photograph. A friend had mentioned in passing she thought I should try another painting of the river. In the end I was quite pleased with the results as it was only done on poor quality practice paper. (The surface will lift a bit if you work “wet in wet” and are not very careful.)
The rain as been pretty unrelenting lately and the rivers, including the Usk, have been running very high. I had an appointment in Hereford last Monday and we could see as we drove along that the “Wye” was skimming the tops of the river banks – not quite brimming over yet. Unlike the photo, which I worked from, which was taken in high summer and with low water levels when you can see all the beautiful rock formations in the upper reaches of both the Usk and Wye. These rivers are renowned for their wild salmon fishing. In summer we sometimes walk out on to the flat beds of the protruding rocks in the Wye and look down into the deep pools beneath where you can see a myriad of tiny fish darting about. It all reminds me of seemingly, endless, childhood days spent on the river back home in the Cotswolds. Catching minnows or poking at caddis larvae and then bringing them home in jam jars for “pets”. That was back in the day all the rivers and streams were teaming with life. Now the conservation groups are endeavouring to rewild and restock the poor beleaguered waterways.
I found this wonderful, discriptive, Elizabethan poem about salmon on the internet. (The Tivy is another Welsh river). I hope you enjoy it . . .
And when the Salmon seeks a fresher stream to find;
(Which hither from the sea comes, yearly, by his kind,)
As he towards season grows; and stems the watry tract
Where Tivy, falling down, makes an high cataract,
Forc’d by the rising rocks that there her course oppose
As tho’ within her bounds they meant her to inclose;
Here when the labouring fish does at the foot arrive,
And finds that by his strength he does but vainly strive;
His tail takes in his mouth, and, bending like a bow
That’s to full compass drawn, aloft himself doth throw,
Then springing at his height, as doth a little wand
That bended end to end, and started from man’s hand,
Far off itself doth cast, so does that Salmon vault;
And if, at first, he fail, his second summersault
He instantly essays, and, from his nimble ring
Still yerking, never leaves until himself he fling
Above the opposing stream.”
Back to it, enough skiving . . . . . mince pies are the next job on the Christmas to do list . . .