The only giveaway in the darkening night that we are on water is a thin shimmering line, a reflection of the last piece of light in the sky. The surface is otherwise still and dark. In the distance I hear lambs bleating and a chorus of birdsong fills the air.
I think to myself that this is a place where I feel most comfortable. A place where I can remove myself from the rush of people, the noise of a consumer-driven life, the depressing opinions about the world, that I see banded about so often. Within that deafening basin I frequently find myself scrabbling about, searching for a way to extract myself silently.
A moving life brings many benefits, and one is that there can be noise; but so too there can be silence. From urban to rural, people to solitude.
When sleep finally comes it is the best I have had in a long time and I wake with enthusiasm for this slow watery world so often overlooked when tangled in life up above; a life of fast-moving roads, things to do, people to see. Here I can be safely cocooned in a world of soothing sounds.
As I wind the paddle down on a lock-gate I am mesmerised by the clink clink of the catch and the sound of rushing water that transports me to my beloved sea. The banging of metal on metal as pins are pushed into the ground reverberates through me and is a reminder that tonight, we are somewhere new, and that tomorrow it can be so again.
I jump off the bow and grab the rope; its roughness is of comfort to these hands always reaching out to feel something that affects me, although by the time I have tied up and they have melded with the wet, they are cold and numb and in need of a warm mug of tea. I await the whistle of our kettle on the stove then sit and stare out of the window; sometimes even music is too much, too intrusive in this world. Instead I prefer to watch the boats drift by and daydream to the gentle hum of passing engines… that is until the unmistakeable ‘pop pop pop’ of the single cylinder fuel boat draws nearer and we all spring into action.
The lady at the tiller, faithful dog by her side, calmly pulls alongside and wanders casually down the gunwale to fill us up with fuel. We talk of dogs and the rain, but are all happy to see brighter skies moving in our direction.
As we sit back down and unfurl once again, I am – as always – astounded by the unmistakable slapping of water as a swan begins its long and arduous accent to becoming airborne, followed by the serene whistle of feathers as it soars majestically into the air.
Tonight as I write up my notes I am urban again and looking forward to voices, laughter, friends and children as we celebrate May Day, but I feel a calmness knowing that in one seemingly small collection of well-rehearsed tasks—one simple untying of ropes and pushing off of bow—I can extract myself and once again immerse fully into the sounds of the Waterways.
In February 2022 I moved my blog to Substack. There you will find weekly writings (with audio option also), plus you can sign up to have them delivered direct to your inbox.
I hope you will join me there!
Blogs I Enjoy
Our Life Handmade
Raised on Earth
Taking a Kinder Path
Wing and Lens
Carol Anne Strange
I.A.S. Natural Horse Training