Huxley’s Run – Jan 2018

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Fly Fishing Reel

Campbell, the small boulder, emerged from the hillside. The spring freshet had tunneled a channel to where he had been hidden. Uncovered, Campbell took his first look at the landscape and felt the warming rays of the sun for the first time in over 1,000 years. He knew his destiny was in the valley below, where the mixture of lake and river flowed eventually into his namesake river.

Campbell stayed on that precipice for another 500 years until a big Black Tail buck miss-stepped and Campbell was nudged just enough to send him into a delightful trip of gravity. Campbell rolled and frolicked, picking up pace on the steep slope. Campbell hooped and hollered as he bounced off trees and larger rocks. He cried with glee as he was swept off the cliff into the air and dove toward to water.

Campbell felt the sublime feel of weightlessness. And then he was nestled among others. Boulders and gravel of varying sizes surrounded him in the depths. They murmured amongst themselves about Campbell’s perfect size and shape. Larger than an orange, not as big as a grapefruit, they knew he was chosen by the King and Queen.

Campbell would have the honour of covering the King’s and Queen’s spawning bed. He would be buffeted by the King’s and Queen’s powerful tails until he was in position before and after the royal nuptials had taken place. There he would help raise the royal children. He would give them succor against the fierce flow of water. He would offer protection from predators.

He would, in his most perfect form, be a sentinel in the great circle of life. The small salmon that tickled him as they emerged from the royal bed would, in three to seven years, return to fan him. Their huge tale fins would move him to another position, year after year, until it was just right, for another brood. The King’s and Queen’s progeny needed him as much as he loved them.

But on that day in the 1950s, thousands of years after his birth, just when was he was going to take the final plunge from Elk Falls into the Campbell River and his Royal Heritage, and find his destined place, his life stopped. He was wedged into a bank of other rocks, some his size, some smaller, some larger. All were asleep and a growth formed on them that only occurred on unmoving structures.

What should have been a flow of water had ceased. What should have, in spring and fall, turned into a raging torrent and picked him up and carried him downstream over Elk Falls to his destiny was nothing but a cold, deep void.

In his last moments, he saw the rings of something that plopped onto the surface above. The rings stretched weakly outwards and then dwindled to nothing. Campbell watched as a small orange-ish salmon egg drifted down and settled near him.

“Are you my destiny?” he asked, drowsily.

“I am, or, was,” said the egg. “I was dropped from my mother while an eagle carried her to its nest. And I have a message for you.”

Campbell blinked wearily, and asked about the message.

“The humans have damned the river and lakes downstream,” said the egg. “You will have to wait to fulfill your life’s destiny.”

Campbell’s eyes closed lazily and blinked again. He asked, “How long do I have to wait?”

The egg, unprotected and immobile, saw the crayfish coming towards it. As the claw took it and brought it towards its mouth, the egg cried out, “From one year to over thousands of years!”

Campbell watched as the egg disappeared into the crayfish’s mouth.

He blinked slowly. His eyes remained closed.

“Really?” he murmured. “Well that’s not so very long.” 

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