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Down Under

by wilvir

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"Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints"

Chief Seattle (1786–1866) leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes

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A Huckleberry Summer

1. Saltersford lock approach.
2. A perfect evening.
3. Slowly succumbing.
4. Ignoring the sky.
5. An evening glow.
6. Stars in their own right.
7. A walk with Hannah.
8. A window on the river.
9. Just a whisper....

Clouds, heavy with rain, blurred the hills around about the river this morning, slowly drifting across the landscape, soaking the air with a hanging moisture of mist and drizzle, flower petals bruised and shaken by passing showers.

Setting off down river the rain seemed to turn aside and keep its distance as we pressed on, ignoring the occasional teasing, but fleeting, outburst of a downfall.

Eldest Granddaughter Hannah, on the cusp of thirteen, arrived on Saturday to stay for a fortnight and has settled in more than we could ever have hoped for, taking to our way of life like a duck to water. Despite the rain and drizzle, Hannah has kept me company on the tiller as we've made our way down river calling in on overnight moorings along the way, the river basked in both sunshine and rain as the weather tries to fathom itself. Hannah caught her first ever fish too as we took advantage of the fleeting afternoon and evening sunshine and has even trawled through my reference books to name flowers I've been meaning to identify for ages on my walks with Gunner, head down, despite bringing a cold with her that is now fast disappearing, watered down by copious fresh air.

A kite, affixed to a long thin hazel pole, flies above the boat, brightening the solemnity of a sky grey with cloud, its shadow dancing on the roof in the occasional sunshine. Inquisitive buzzards look down, calling to each other, wondering.

The river wanders by, unhurried, wilvir gently leaning, heavy on her ropes. Occasional rowers and paddlers pull past, competition keen in the club boats as the cox calls the cadence or singletons are encouraged to greater effort by a chase boat. The backdrop of woodland and field beside the river, wide, wild, teeming with life, the warmth of summer slowly ripening harvest fruits, timing everything now.
8th Aug 2015, 13:46   comments (0)

A Summer Stunner

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4th Aug 2015, 13:36   comments (0)

A Roach to the Net

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1st Aug 2015, 14:23   comments (0)


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'A reed bed whispers and rustles its ancient stories into the wind and reminds us to listen to the ancestors' 
By Muddypond Green
30th Jul 2015, 12:36   comments (0)


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He knows me like no other, mad, sad or glad, he knows.
30th Jul 2015, 11:46   comments (0)

Days Made Good

The days are all of a tizzy weather-wise, my daily walks ignoring the vagaries of an ever changing sky, instead taking in the splendour of a countryside heavy with every shade of green imaginable. 

Overcast, sultry, sulky days slow Gunners pace to a plod, his enthusiasm waning with every step until we enter a canopy of woodland edged by stream and lake. Rabbit and squirrel dart through the leaf litter, heading in vertically opposite directions with Gunner in hot pursuit until left staring down the naked entrance of a burrow, or barking furiously up at a tree, the sound of leaves disturbed above egging him on, his frustration growing. I call him away, his tail and ears up, alert now, concentrating, sniffing upwind for another chase.

The tinkling flow of the shallow stream tempts, distracts and cools as he stands paw deep in the gravel, the cold water babbling about his legs causing him to almost sigh with the pleasure of it. Then he's gone, chasing an imaginary fish upstream, water thrown in every direction as he plays.

Catching up with him he leaps clear of the stream to shower me with grateful affection and a refreshing, spattering soaking, then he's off again. The scent of water in his nostrils, I let him run to the lake where he can immerse himself and swim out for the sticks I'd been collecting. As usual he was sat, head to one side, ears cocked, waiting for three little words that would give him the all clear to run headlong into the embrace of his favourite pastime. His enthusiasm is contagious as I heft the thick boughs out as far as I can. His speed through the water, fluid, powerful. His breathing, at first ragged, spluttering, snorting with excitement, steadying, controlled as he quickly finds his rythym.

Wandering the lakeside, Gunner shedding droplets of water as we go, and occasionally shaking more free, we head up into the fields. A crop of  barley rises towards the near horizon, a golden lake, aglow in the occasional sunlight. Mischievous calves, loose from an adjacent grass field, stand out amongst it, leaving newly trodden trails and, no doubt later, a less than amused cattleman.

A smaller, distant lake shimmers in the occasional sunlight raking it's surface. Green-camouflaged dome-like shelters dot the banks giving the presence of anglers away. All but the kitchen sink barrowed in for awkward convenience and comfort, though quite what watching television has to do with getting-away-from-it-all is beyond me, still.........

A light drizzle begins to fall, sparkling in the low sunlight radiating fan-like from the far horizon. I ignore the rain, instead preferring to watch lengthening and distorted shadows creep from their hiding places, preparing to join the coming darkness. Rural footpaths cut across the landscape, leading to unseen settlements, criss-crossing waterways as they meander, leading me the few miles distant back home.

With the boating season in full swing and school holidays begun, the sounds of laughter and excitement from a passing boat cuts through the quiet until a judicious fist-full of throttle fades the sound of engine and reverie to silence. Walking the towpath, I hear a passing hire-boat crewman shout to the skipper that his bedroom floor is under water........oh joy. I thought to offer some advice, but not wanting to run and keep abreast of them at the speed they were going, I held my counsel. They'd reach the next marina before it sank anyhow.

As quiet descended once again, the sound of a mooring pin being hammered into the towpath ahead meant neighbours. Rounding a sweeping bend, sure enough, a narrowboat was almost perched on wilvir's stern. What is it with some boaters and this closeness thing? Then I noticed their stern rope through the ring of my mooring chain...............well I never, real neighbourly, maybe they only have one mooring pin!
28th Jul 2015, 12:22   comments (2)

Light and Shade

Summer; a season of sentiment, of expectation, of unhurried halcyon days, the year settled in, autumn lying unspoken of beyond the horizon.

The sky blossoms with cotton-wool, clouds cooling, refreshing the landscape, releasing the scent of a thousand aromas as showers fall lazily, unpredictably, but welcome, seeming to paint the landscape with brighter shades, colours glossed by reflected sunlight.

Mirrored on the surface of a pond, a pair of swans, almost too white to look at directly, drift regally, heads occasionally dipping beneath the surface, tails up, necks extended, seeking a meal.

Surface ripples highlight the presence of fish, rudd probably, investigating the leaf debris above their heads thrown down by a stiff breeze signalling the low pressure bringing the early rain; 'rain before seven, dry by eleven' oft-uttered by those least bothered by the vagaries of weather to those most bothered by it.

The contrast of light and shade with broken clouds of varying densities, shifts the focus of my enquiring eye, the depth of sunlight spreading, wave-like, across the landscape, chased by cloud-shadows, playing hide and seek with the sun.

The days of Summer are a joy, opening up all manner of wonders, regardless of rain or shine. Kestrels loiter, patient, sure of their prowess, burning energy, drifting in and out of the hover to ease 'the burn'; like a Kestrel jump-jet transitioning from engine-sapping vertical thrust take-off to wing-borne flight, thus saving itself from heat exhaustion and burning fuel enough to reduce its capability, much like the bird of prey it was named after before the aircraft became known as the Harrier.

Wind hisses through leaves holding fast by their fingertips to a flailing branch. Birds flying high, untroubled, sing with sweet voices, upturned faces seeking them out in the glare of an azure sky, momentarily distracted by the silver glint of an airliner caught in the sunlight.

A shadow cast by a crack willow reaches me, affords me a respite from the sun that I know is imperceptibly darkening, burning, the skin of my arms, it's dappled pattern dancing about me in the stiff breeze. I steady the fishing rod and tease another pristine roach to the waiting landing net. No 'clonker', but more than welcome for all its glistening beauty and brightness of eye, fins cuffed red, each scale a jewel. My real quarry, a gudgeon, teasing away pieces of hookbait, attracts the attention of passing roach, much to my satisfaction as I admire and study the fish most sought after by coarse angling centrepin purists.

Twilight engulfs the sky, shade and shadow wash over each other as the horizon fades through all the muted colours ever described and becomes one with the imminent darkness. Another spectacle, the wonder of outer space, is upon us now as a curtain of darkness descends and the footlights of sunset slowly dim.
I stow my fishing gear and sit on the stern roof, a reed warbler melodious amongst the swaying bull rushes and reed mace. The navigation lights of a climbing airliner overwhelmed by the twinkling lights of outer space and the reflected light of our our home planets already visible; with more to come. There is always something worth waiting for.........
16th Jul 2015, 13:45   comments (0)

Fuming with Age

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This world of ours, for all its modern modes of transport, can never again engender the emotional attachment we have with a steam locomotive, tended, fuelled, coaxed and loved. A living embodiment of the engineer in us all.
26th Jun 2015, 12:11   comments (0)