First fish of the year, the wee brookies are always up for a fight.
Megan Boyd left school at an early age and learned the craft of fly dressing from an old river warden who had her unravel finished flies and rewind them onto smaller and smaller hooks, over and over until she knew the patterns by heart. All she wanted to do, it seemed, was to make flies. They were everything she was not - seductive, graceful, pretty.
As an adult, she lived almost completely alone, in a small cottage staring out over the North Sea, in far northern Scotland. She had no electricity, no running water or telephone.
With years of practice, her flies became more and more beautiful and beguiling. Though the patterns of the flies were familiar and available to fly-tiers everywhere, Megan’s flies were special, magical: as if she put life into them.
As word of her talent spread, men began showing up at her doorstep as if they were her intended quarry all along: first local lads and handsome river guides, then the landed gentry and lords from London; and finally a prince, the Prince of Wales. She invited him in, had him sit in the rickety old chair by the window. Though their relationship was meant to be secret, to protect Charles from the prying eyes of the press, Megan seemed almost eager to let people know he had been to see her, or that she had rendezvoused with him at the dowdy hotel by the harbor.
She learned to dance - late in life - as if she expected to be asked. But Prince Charles married into another fairy tale. And when the Queen invited her to Buckingham Palace to award her the British Empire Medal - an incredible honor for a fly-tier, Megan declined, claiming she could find no one to watch her dog that night.
When one’s fantasies are stronger than reality, things have a way of unraveling. The exotic birds from which Megan drew her feathers became endangered and impossible to source. People began making flies out of beaver and boar bristle, flashy polyester and superglue - and they were strangely just as effective as the ancient patterns, as if the fish never cared about the artistry in the first place.
Megan never fished a day in her life; she hated the idea that her flies were used to kill fish - and yet she never stopped making them. Salmon stocks dropped precipitously, and the fish relied on the unpredictable benevolence of fishermen to release them back to the river. And after so many years working without electricity, Megan’s eyesight gradually disappeared. She could only make out shadows. The colors, the light, and the view of the sea - they all vanished.
All that remained was her imagination.
From Kiss the water, a moving movie about Megan Boyd.
The Enbridge Pipeline
This video just debuted at the Vancouver Film Festival, a two-year project of close friend Ben Paull. Yet another collision, if you will, of resource extraction and transit in our part of the world. Watch this carefully. There will be some serious repercussions should this make it past government approval, not just for fish but humans as well. More at Pipe Up Against Enbridge.
original content Ben Paull