Still life – with shadowy footprints

Pond skaters are slender creatures, slim in body and skinny in leg. This lightweight structure makes these bugs ideal inhabitants of virtually any stretch of calm water. I watch as a group scull around the sunlit pool below the bridge at Millyford, their shadows on the rust-coloured silt bottom often revealing their whereabouts more clearly than their silhouettes on the surface. But there’s something strange about the shadows. Each leg appears to be a long-handled metal detector. On a bright day such as this, it’s possible to see something that is not visible in other light. The sunlight shows up the small circular indentation made by the pond skaters’ feet in the surface of the water, and this is slightly magnified as the shadow is cast on the bed below.

The track sides are lined with a scattering of yellow lesser celandines, a few

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