Tragic Ballerinas

I have been reading John lewis-Semple’s book, “The Wood”. This writer paints beautiful pictures of nature using wonderful word choices instead of paint.  At one point he describes the death of Mayflies in his local ponds. Mayflies are a spectacular feature of English Chalk Streams . They are an exquisite aquatic insect that leaves the river during May to mate in the air and then to fall to the water, lay their eggs and die.  A visit to a chalk stream on a mild, late May, evening will reveal what is truly a wonder of nature. Many thousands of these insects fill the air. and the trout feed on them wildly as they collapse on the water. John describes the “fall of spinners”, as it is locally known, as a fall of tragic ballerinas. So appropriate!. In spite of the fact that the expression also has associations with cartoon strips, this seems to me to be such a beautiful expression to describe this magical event. I have painted them many times, and have just produced a limited Edition print which is being sold on Leckford estate where I work as an artist.

The biomass of mayflies during late May has been estimated as many thousands of tons of food which nourishes the river system and enables fish to recover from winter spawning and grow large and fat.

It is vital that this precious ecosystem is protected from pollution and water abstraction. A battle that many of us think we are still loosing.

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