Trees stand along the fence line, down the drive, tall, ghostly white, frozen in the predawn. Glass needles of grass sparkle as the moon disappears and the dawn slips quietly into the valley. It has been like this for more than two months, every morning, before racing for hot shower. I survey the weather, waiting. The triplets are away at school, they come home for 3 months in the spring, and we spend the endless spring days in the valley, we now, call our home.
We live in the house of my family, passed down from one generation to the next; I will be the fifth Tucker to make the Valley home. My brother inherited the very lucrative Trout farm, started by our grandfather, when the dairy farm ceased to be viable. Three years ago, my brother and his wife, were in a fatal accident on the other side of the valley. It was a wet windy night, there was a patch of black ice, and they were gone.
The children, then five, were spending the weekend with me in the city. After the will was read, and I was named the children’s legal guardian, I decided instantly, to give the children the life in the valley they would have enjoyed had their parents still been with us. I would have been happier if their schooling was carried out locally across the valley. My brother had made the arrangement; years before, for the children to go to the college where he, our father, and grandfather attended. It is not far from the valley, but, as we are often snowed in during winter, it had been decided they should board during the year and come home during the spring break.
The children and I had spent a year in the valley, before they went to college. I wanted them to know I love them, know I am here for them in the future; we needed to bond and form the family unit we now are.
The Trout farm has four ponds, we start with the small fish, called fingerlings, in the first pond, and then, as they mature they move on through each pond until they are put into the large dam and stream system that has been created.
It has turned into quite a good business; I have four full time staff, and in spring, summer and autumn, four extras, and half a dozen guides and fishers come in to help the customers. We have fishers come in during the day, some seasoned, who just want to get away and fish for pure enjoyment, in quiet solitude. The sound of a stream bubbling and laughing as it rushes past them, of birds laughing in the distance and the different scents of each season. They usually take half a dozen fish home and return the others caught, for future trips. We have the father and son combos, father and daughters and mothers and daughters, who are new to the sport, we send a guide with them to explain the technicalities. We see them get the feeling of excitement, catching their first fish
There is a cook on hand, to teach our new fishers, that a fresh fish only needs to be rolled in flour, pan cooked in butter until golden, drizzled with lemon, salt and pepper and there you have a dish, fit for a king. Skills are also taught of how to recognise a fresh fish, by the way it curls slightly while cooking. Our customers are varied, and unique, our staff, knowledgeable and driven to teach visitors the joys of fishing.
At last, winter has shaken off her coat, Jonquils’ and Daffodils’ peeking their golden heads out into the pale sun, at last. Magpies heard, carolling their spring songs of love, and the joy, of a new season.
The children are excited about their spring break, and I can’t wait to pick them up, just two days to go. We have, during the last three years, made our own rituals; we stop at the rim of the valley and sit and appreciate our home, Tuckers Hill. An old two story, silver grey brick, seasoned by the years , the veranda that wraps the entire house in its arms, long it has nestled under the home hill, nearly hidden by the trees that line the drive. Tuckers Hill, named after our distant relation who settled here many, many years ago. The children and I ride the quad bikes around the valley, I go along happy to see them home, marvelling how they have grown, even though it is only four weeks since I had seen them at the end of term concert. We will, during the next three months again, cement our ties to each other, and our little piece of earth we now call home.