Along the riverbank

Having endured trench foot all day yesterday after a walk through the long grass around the fields (yes I could have changed my shoes, but somehow it was a chore too far..) today we took the riverside walk, where the kind folks who look after the fishing have mowed many paths meandering through the long grass from beat to beat.

The air is teeming with tiny flies at the moment and just at the start of the main path a flight of swallows was scything through the long grass harvesting them. Looking up to find Lyra I found myself eye to eye with a crow of the deepest black. Such uncanny birds, a hole incised in the landscape with the void beyond. But the sun was shining and the meadow by the river was a tapestry of bright flowers, the black ovals of plantain planets with their creamy rings and speckles of shaggy agrostis, all embroidered together with glossy strands of burgundy tipped reed grass, so we ambled on, undeterred.

I was glad to hear the homely hum of bees in the comfrey and see a few butterflies at the wild stocks. I also spotted a very futuristic blue and black item – probably a damselfly but it didn’t hang around long enough to study in detail. It feels like there haven’t been as many winged visitors around this year as usual. I’ve seen none of the fluttery grey brown butterflies and only one or two fritillaries. I hope it’s nothing sinister and just a weather related blip. In the stillness I could hear the fishermen, out on boats and tucked into curves in the bank, chatting away. The word “enormous” drifted up and across several times. Hope springs eternal..

Lyra was very busy, rolling in mowing heaps and dashing up and down the tracks to the beats to jump in for a paddle at favoured spots. Sitting on one of the, decidedly uncomfortable, fishing benches (it seems to be assumed that all fishermen are 6’2″ and have tiny (or very well padded) bums) I drifted back. A “beach” like this, with smooth grey river stones with silverweed poking through and the glorious smell of damp river weed drying at the waterline, was the pinnacle of my childhood summer heaven. There would be minnows darting between the weeds to catch with the summer holiday issue baggie net and rings of bigger stones, replete with charred driftwood, at the back where the big boys and girls had been barbecuing in the evening – the ultimate sophistication. Later on, there would be sunbathing in the long grass and swimming in cut off jeans and plimsoles during “study” periods (Sorry mum – it never did me any harm).

The river was like glass today, barely a ripple, so a sudden popping at the edge caught my eye. I wondered for a moment if it was a few spots of rain, but the sky was bright blue and the clouds high. A gull flew over and as the shadow passed over the river the pops became a ripple. How odd. I stepped over to look but could see nothing so went back to the bench. At this point Lyra got in on the act and stepped into the water and a positive turmoil ensued with myriad ripples fleshing across the surface and two silver flashes of small fish breaking the meniscus in a leap. Could it be fry I wonder?

In the course of my post walk tea break the sun seems to have gone in and there are spots of rain on the window. I’m so glad we were up and about early, it was a wonderful morning.

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