My maternal grandfather was a fly fisherman. It has to be said that, despite being accomplished at many things (pianist, violinist, mathematician, gardener, Times crossworder and hill walker) he did not catch many trout. Not when I was with him anyway.
He was always exercising our brains, even as he exercised our legs on a walk. We were told that to make a fly, another thing he was excellent at, he really, really needed a blue jay feather. I used to walk with my eyes on the ground for years, peeled for a glint of the rare feather for my grandfather. I found one, once. And he took it and made a fly as I recall, but he had a whole box of them so it would be hard to say which featured my feather. I wonder what happened to the box of flies. They were quite something, even if you don’t fish.
It was funny then, after all those years staring at my feet to just find one, that we turned up a handful of them all in one go last autumn. I weighted them down with a river cobble so I could take the shot. The children are too old for feather headdresses now and I left the feathers down by the river not being a fly fisher myself. I wish I had brought one home now.