Amser maith yn ôl, a long, long time ago, the first people who walked the earth began to journey to this place. They came and went, as the ice receded and returned, as the sea rose and fell. Whenever there was land here, they came, and when the land was swallowed by the sea, they would leave and go to higher ground. These were people that carried their lives with them, who took their animals and their homes and their families, and went where the tides took them, where the ground was fertile, and where there was food.
That’s how the fisher girl came to be here. Her family had been coming to this place for thousands of years. Even when the tide was too high and this place was ocean and they could not travel here, they still told stories about it. It was a special place, they said. A place where the land was fertile and full of life, where you could hunt. You could take your spear and tread in among the boggy, marshy soil, and bring up enough fish to feed a family in a few moments.
There she is: do you see her? Do you see how sharp her eyes are? How she knows exactly where to stand, feet planted firmly on the damp soil, and how to gaze into the water below her. How she lets herself drift a little, lets her mind slip, and then she sees it, the silvery flash below the surface, and she moves like lightning passing across the sky, or like a diving bird ducking below the surface, and she plunges her spear into the depths and brings up something sparkling and shining: a fat fish for her family’s dinner.
Fisher Girl was the finest fisher in her family. That’s how she got her name. And it was good that she was, because she was reaching the age when she was being given the smaller children to take care of, and she could slip away with her spear and nobody would question her. She was so fast that, often, she would have a good catch in an hour or two, and be able to spend the rest of the day alone.
When her family came here for the summer months, in between the rising tides of winter, Fisher Girl walked the paths that used to be here, where you’re standing now. She got to know the places where the bog was deep and thick with fish. She came to this lake before it was a lake all year round, and she found quiet moments to sit beside it and be by herself. Fisher Girl longed for the quiet, longed to be away from her family and their group, the ones who travelled with them. There was one in particular whom she was always trying to avoid.
He was Runner, the fastest Runner of all, a few years older than Fisher Girl. He liked Fisher Girl more than she liked him, and was always trying to follow her when she took her spear and went away from the rest of the group. “Where are you going?” he’d say. “Let me come with you.”
Sometimes, Fisher Girl was able to slip away before Runner noticed. But he was fast. There were too many times when, thinking she was alone, she would put
her spear down after filling her fish basket and sit down by the lakeside to enjoy her own company, and then he’d pop up out of a bush or from behind a tree.
“Guess who?” Runner would say, and Fisher Girl would roll her eyes and gather up her things and go back to the group, Runner bobbing at her heels, her perfect day ruined.
Fisher Girl wanted the lake to herself, you see. She wanted time to herself. When she was with her family and the rest of the group, there was always something to do. A child to be captured and cleaned and fed, food to be prepared, fish to gut, animal skins to scrape and cure, spears to be mended. When she was here, alone, by the edge of the glimmering water, she had a bit of time to think. To imagine something different.
What are you thinking about now, looking out over the lake?
Perhaps you, like Fisher Girl, would like to be alone here, to see what magic might appear?
Well, I can tell you, Fisher Girl longed to be here alone. Without Runner. Without knowing that, at some point, she’d have to gather her spear and the fish and go back to her family.
She wanted hours here.
She wondered, if she came at night, would she get them? And, if so, what would she see?