Old Friend

I got this off Google street view yesterday. It was like seeing an old friend:

Back when I lived in Devon 10 years ago, I used to sit for hours by this river, under the trees on the left, with a beer and a cigarette, gazing at the water, thinking about absolutely nothing.

Discovering this river was the only good thing that came out of the smoking ban. For years beforehand I used to sit inside the pub with a beer and a cigarette, but after the ban I always sat outside, usually down by the river, at one of the wooden tables beside it.

I got fascinated by the river. It was always changing. Some days it was in deep, fast-flowing flood. But mostly it was just like the placid view above. And sometimes it dwindled away to a narrow stream curling through the rocks on its bottom.

Some of the rocks were quite large. They’d arrive one day, and sit for months immobile, and then they’d be gone again, swept downstream on a flood.

And when the river flooded, as it did from time to time, it could fill the pub. There were signs inside the pub showing how high the water had risen in one year or other. It happened every 20 years or so. They had to change all the carpets when that happened.

Eventually I explored the whole river from end to end, from where it began as a narrow stream in the hills above, to where it discharged swollen into the sea.

Water is astonishing stuff.

I think of rivers as living things. They’re always moving, very purposefully, in one particular direction. And they have their moods, which vary from the playful to the angry. And they can be quite vocal. either quietly babbling, or loudly roaring. What else is needed to be alive? Who says that living things need cells or DNA to be alive? Rivers have neither.

And there were always things happening on the river. There were always leaves floating on it, journeying side by side. The occasional boat. And there were ducks. And fish. And dragonflies. And eddies and ripples and shadows. It was like watching a show. And I could watch for hours.

I miss the river.

About Frank Davis

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5 Responses to Old Friend

  1. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Lovely pleasant pastoral blog Frank ! Charming and uplifting !

  2. waltc says:

    I can see why you miss it. I have that feeling about a particular tree-lined lake that I return to often in my mind.

  3. RdM says:

    Water is astonishing stuff.

    Indeed, and I am bemused by talk of polywater and EZ water.



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