Friday, April 16, 2010

McElligott's Pool

I suppose that this is a post about the difference between perception and reality. When I was young, we had a collection of stories by Dr Seuss. One of the stories which was read many times was called McElligott's Pool. The story opens with the image of a boy, looking for all the world like Huck Finn, sitting beside a somewhat horrible pond. He sits there quite happily with a fishing line dangling in the water which, if memory serves, is a murky gray with an old tire among other things floating on the surface. One of his elders approaches to tell him that he "is sort of a fool to sit there and fish in McElligott's Pool". Calmly, the boy rattles out a whole rhyming list of odd fish which may be waiting for the opportunity to swim into the pool.

On our property we have a small stream. The water runs down the North Mountain, crosses under our road in a culvert, cuts across the bottom corner of our land, and makes its way under another road before crossing a marsh and emptying into the Annapolis Basin. Most of the time this is a very gentle stream. It is the sort of stream which provides a lovely soothing noise when you are trying to fall asleep with the window open on warm summer nights. Occasionally, as you can see in this collection of images from February 2008, the stream becomes more of a raging torrent. On this occasion heavy rain combined with melting snow and a blocked culvert made for much or our road getting washed away. I should stress that these photographs are quite misleading for the stream looks right now. At most it would be three feet wide and maybe six inches deep in the deepest pools. Most of the stream would be much more shallow than this.

Now, to make the rest of this story make sense, I should preface it by saying that I have been working from home for the last two days. One of our children has been ill so I have been trying to catch up on some of the work I can do from home. Each day I have walked down to the corner to meet our other child as he came home on the school bus. Normally I would not be tromping up and down our road in the middle of the day. Yesterday while we were walking up the road I noticed some movement in one of the deeper pools. I only saw the motion and could not discern its source. Working from what I know of the animals who live around the stream, I assumed that it was a frog hopping away from us as we approached. Since we often find frogs in this area, I did not think about it again until I was walking down the road today.

I was a few minutes early for the bus so I decided to stop by the pool where I had seen the motion. When I looked into the water I had a great surprise. There, swimming as happily as can be, was a four inch trout. I really would not have been more stunned had a hand reached out of the water and grabbed my ankle. I suppose that I should not have been surprised, but like the elder in McElligott's Pool, I had not though this sort of thing possible in our little stream. It just seemed too small to support this sort of life. Who knows what other sort of life may be waiting there for me to discover. I really hope that some of those juggling fish from Dr Seuss show up.

On reflection, it does make sense that the trout was there. Nova Scotia is well known for trout fishing and these fish exist quite happily in the larger ponds on the North Mountain. I still do not know how the fish got there nor do I know how it will get out of this shallow stream. As I was once told, it is not for man to question the wisdom of trout.

All for now,

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