Here we are,
the sea pilgrims.
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,
the light darkens,
but inside us the sea shines silver,
and fills our hearts with light.
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.
Bank holiday monday,
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.
There were holes in
This one wonderful creative life
It had got a little threadbare
Over the years
In need of darning
A light had dimmed
And now, I’m adding threads
Wild snatches of music
Experienced from the inside
Part of a circle of people playing
For themselves and for each other
Sharing tunes and memories
And weaving a richer life
The warp and weft of friendships
Stories, rhythms, rhymes
And the hills of the Lake District
And a scattering of colour, paint on canvas,
Feeling the lines and texture flow from the brush in my hand
The peace of deep, relaxed movement
Taking time to reconnect
The wake of a canoe across the lake
Adding a silvery thread
All absolutely necessary
Now I know what I’ve been missing
All of this is what I need
Now there are no threadbare patches left
In the tapestry that is
This creative life
The clouds dispersed to reveal the estuary
domed with blue.
A cold north wind blowing
but in the shelter of a hedge
the sun felt warm, springlike
and the first frogspawn in a ditch.
The rising, full moon high tide paused
at the outer edge of the saltmarshes
where the birds gathered;
curlew, oystercatcher, redshank.
Then the sea quietly,
relentlessly, marched on over the marshes
scattering birds, forming islands of green
that gradually disappeared underwater.
A stream of sea pushed in past our feet
to the railway embankment
signalling the time to leave
this inbetween place
to the sea and sky
and the birds.
Weather and circumstance have conspired recently to keep my walks short
but today I was out for hours.
And now I am weary, that lovely tiredness of the body;
heavy limbs and aching muscles
thankful for a day outside
in the sun and frost.
Mind relaxed, soul nourished
by the long views of the fells and the sea,
clear blue skies and the orange glow of bracken.
Lungs full of fresh air,
I’ll sleep well tonight.