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Ronan's report


Sunday March 13th 2011

Like sailors, pilots, and kite fliers, fly-fishers always have an eye on the breeze. Miles from the river we can look at the clouds scudding by and know that, if we were on the river at that precise moment, we would be using a double spey cast to deal with the howling downstream gale.

Looking at the weather map on the evening news, the shape and density of the isobars may tell us that this valley will be more sheltered than that one, or that this side of the loch will give better drifts than the other; or it might just tell us to get some more logs in from the store and spend the day inside, tying flies.

When I lived in the centre of Edinburgh, I used to look up at the Saltire flying above the Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street. If it was gently swaying, then all was fine: a nice ripple would be on the water, and I could picture the lazy rises of trout along the shore.

If the flag was flying properly and perpendicular to the flagpole, I knew it was going to be white-caps and spray; the constant white-noise of leaves and branches hissing against the ear-drums.

The other day out walking on the hills was a real flag-flier! I spent 5 minutes sheltering snug behind a tree, watching the snow zip horizontally past me and down the valley. To the left and right the landscape was a whirling blur of white and grey. Then when I craned my neck, pushed my hood back and looked up I was amazed to see a beautiful bright blue sky.

A visible flow surrounded me tumbling over rocks and around stumps, obscuring distant objects, yet up above (how high? Two hundred feet? Three?) was a separate world of shining stillness. I felt like a trout in a stream!

I doubt that a trout ever ponders over the where and why of the flow of water. But sitting there behind that tree I got to wondering about the wind.

It's all to do with spin apparently. The world turns on its axis because the sub-atomic particles in the dust that formed the solar system all had their own momentum; as the dust stuck together it began to spin in one big whirlpool. And when planets formed within the whirlpool they too began to spin (all in same direction apparently, apart from Venus which got beaned by something rather large early on in the proceedings).

So, as it spins the earth heats up (as it faces the sun) and cools (at night). The hot air rises; the cold air falls, and bingo you have a nice zephyr zinging from equator to pole and back again. Spin comes in here again and deflects this wind, and then land masses get in the way and screw things up good and proper, to the point where we are sceptical of weather forecasts and get stuck on a hill in a horizontal snow storm; Imagining we're a trout...

Will


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