We sat on Sundays, high up by the roots of the knobbled beech tree, careful not to get our Sunday best worse. The castle hung in the distance, anchored by pristine lawns that glistened in the early morning sun. That held the castle a distant nirvana. Untouchable,unreachable. Shuttered blinds that guarded the Major’s privacy.
We were more interested in what went on below. The Moyola , it's honey browned waters burbling blindly over the weir, fattened by the rains of late Autumn. Gorged on leaves from falling foliage, the swirl and foam all working together at the edge of the weir.
It's razor sharp edge awaiting. We watched with all the uneasiness of Sunday,s service children mumbling prayers and humming hymns. Restless on uncomfortable bums.
We watched. Keen to see the struggle of life. Salmon returning to their natal, spawning ground. The magnetic tug of nature. To return and breed again. We watched and blinked. There's one, a brother shouted. Where ? Too late. the flash and flip of fins, scaled body turning in the sun. One moment hung in silent poise. The next gone. Upstream. To start the cycle again.
We knew where poachers snared their nets. We shared the whispered secret. We knew where ponies grazed. Yet never saw them. We knew who carved initials of love's declaration entwined. We knew the secret identities of J 4 M X. The tree’s bled white scar would soon redden. That love would come and go.
We knew that things lurked by the edge of the forest, where young fir trees hushed and squatted like hunkered children. Lurked and merging as the dusk set in. We knew we had to make the gate by the big field. Reach the light, before the startled blackbird shot and the crack of broken twig ratcheted up the fear. We reached the gate and life and home.
We dreamt of a raft of six logs twined with rope, with catapults each end and barrels to keep us afloat. We dreamt of flight from river to lough, from lough to sea, from the sea to beyond. And adventures. Our dream was sunk. The rope cost 12s 6d. Our bank was broke.
And so we lived our adventures in fiction. In WE Johns, we were Biggles. We banked at 12 o'clock high and Messerschimtts screaming in. A scar of flak fire ripped the under carriage. Spiralling earthwards.
We were pirates on Coral Island. Scurvy ridden , plundering natives homes and forest fruits.
Treasure trove in over spilled trunks. We were gauchos on the altiplanos of cleared forests. We were botanists canoeing up the Amazon by the light of firefly and the jungle night sounds. And we were boys.
Excerpt from 'The Boy at the Window'