Walking through happiness

Camping in Eskdale in the Lake District. Life slows down.

Near our tent, two little girls play in a stream. They pick buttercups and place them on a narrow slab of blue slate, laid across to make a bridge.

Both of their fathers appear through the trees. The girls put their arms around each other, hopping with excitement.

Come and look! We’ve made you something for Father’s Day!

The dads approach the streamside.

Walk across the bridge and it will give you happiness!

One dad walks straight across, over the buttercups, the other looks a bit hesitant.

Come on dad, walk across and you will get happiness for Father’s Day!

He walks across, somewhat reluctantly. Perhaps he has enough happiness already. Consequently there is some leftover happiness on that bridge.

The girls are corralled into waiting cars, parents complaining about stream-wet clothes, holiday over.

After they leave, I walk slowly over the buttercup-festooned bridge, walking through happiness.

Into the darkness

September, and

the nights are drawing in.

Long summer evenings seem

a distant memory.

In the house,

once the lights go on

the world outside seems

so dark,

so uninviting.

But it’s still there,

still waiting.

Tonight, I venture out,

stumbling until my eyes

grow accustomed to

shades of darkness.

A glow in the west

from the sun, long set,

faintly illuminating

a pale mackeral sky.

Clouds like ripples in sand,

and behind them

faint twinkling stars

guiding me to the north

and the beauty of the night

Sea pilgrims

Here we are,

the sea pilgrims.

The wanderers,

the seekers,

the beachcombers,

the sunset-catchers.

Not many of us tonight.

A damp evening,

dark before its time.

Thunder rumbles in the distance,

water mirrors grey

and turns it into silver,

alchemy before our eyes.

An infinite supply of treasure

for a sea pilgrim.

We leave the shore,

turn inland,

the light darkens,

sky lowers,

but inside us the sea shines silver,

and fills our hearts with light.

A click of the shutter

I don’t have a waterproof camera

and my phone was wrapped in plastic, safe in a drybag,

for emergencies only.

And so I had no photos to share

to say I was there,

to try to convey the meaning of a moment.

But how often does a photograph really do that?

After all, there are other senses than sight.

So.

Bank holiday monday,

Coniston Water

the end of a scorching weekend.

Paddling south (first time in my canoe this year)

away from the crowds,

my arms remember how good it feels,

burn of working muscle

taking me further from the voices and barbecue smoke.

Past open water swimmers towing orange floats

who stop for a chat in the middle of the lake

unfazed by the deeps,

complaining of the cold water.

Past moored boats, and pine tree promentaries,

shingle beaches overhung with oaks,

until, at the south end of the lake

as yellow reeds narrow to reveal the start of a river,

I turn around to head back north and see

spread before me the calm lake

bordered by woods in the first flush of spring green,

low bracken-covered hills glowing

in the early evening sunshine,

the Coniston fells beyond, blue and slightly misty.

That is the moment I would have pressed the shutter.

But could that photograph record

the pleasant ache of shoulders and arms,

the gentle forward motion of the canoe,

the sound of water lapping,

a mind quietened to contentment?

One moment, containing

a sense of returning, of welcome,

a glimpse of childhood,

a farewell to winter,

and the seed of all the summers to come.