It’s the August bank holiday here in England. This is a note I left in the kitchen on Saturday.
Going canoeing reminded me of a poem I wrote on May Day bank holiday 2018. Reposting it here:
I don’t have a waterproof camera
and my phone is wrapped in plastic, safe in a drybag,
for emergencies only.
And so I have no photos to share
to say I was here,
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.