Connecting with the River: August

Blog post, August 2017 (published 1/9/2017 after broad band is finally installed at home).

The month begins with thick cloud and a rainstorm that lasted twelve hours or so. By the following morning the river is much fuller, and where the water passes through the reeds that have grown up across it, there is a strong though narrow stream that looks like a miniature rapid. It takes several days for the weather to clear and for some hot, sunny weather to arrive; for a while from then, even when it’s cloudy it’s warm. The river settles down to be still and quiet – it seems happiest in the winter when there is plenty of rainfall, though it’s in the summer that there is the lush growth along the banks, and plenty of bird life. Most of the summer birds are gone by now however, and the lush growth is beginning to die down.

Signs of scummy pollution get washed downstream sometimes, and are usually washed away again in a day or two. The fish are busy; one comes to the surface, and very strangely then moves sideways before disappearing back into the water. I have never seen that before – in fact I’ve never even heard of it happening. There’s a chill in the early mornings, and it’s misty more often than before; though the days are warm and usually sunny.

Finally we are getting a sustained period of real summer weather. The stillness of the river is something that I’ve been aware of since back in April – I described it then as ‘settling down into its bed’, and most of the time it’s been very sleepy ever since. I haven’t realised before how static, with no sense of flow, the river can be. The weather is very pleasant though – but I have become ill.

For the first few days I lie in bed, ‘travelling with Petroc’, working out the next part of my story. The weather continues to be hot, and after five days – having been told that the hot weather is about to end – I get up to walk to the river again. It’s a gorgeous day and I feel inspired. The sound of the reeds swaying in the breeze is like wheat or barley; it made me think of Egypt by the Nile. In the bright early afternoon sunshine I can see fish swimming in the water, something I have never seen in the mornings when the sun is low. On the way back I see a beautiful bird of prey languidly circling above the field, spiralling down until it had seen that whatever it had noticed was not edible, and it flew away.

I thought I was getting better, but by the following morning I was definitely worse and by the end of the day I was in hospital; this is a different story altogether …