Paddling on the Avon
Pushing off from the muddy bank, I slip my paddle gently into the water, not wanting to break its glassy perfection. I start moving slowly upstream.
At this time of year, the earth coloured treeline and the banks blend perfectly with the brown-green colour of the river itself. But the sky hasn't read the script and is a brilliant blue today.
As I caress the water, pushing softly against the flow, I soak up the sights and sounds of the Avon.
The surprisingly evergreen Alder tree. Defying autumn with its circular green leaves that filter the low sunshine into beams of green tinted light.
The deep tornado-like eddies that form either side of my paddle as I propel myself upstream.
The sound of the water as my paddle submerges, pushes through and exits. Is there a smoother sound in the world? For the moment I doubt that there could be and savour it.
The naked willow tree left isolated in the flow of the river. Not only has it lost touch with its peers but it has lost its leaves and much of its bark too. It looks as cold as the air feels on this chilly morning.
The twinkling of the last yellow leaves in a tall poplar - shining in the sun, dancing in the wind. Below the poplar I notice the reflection of the dappled sunlight on the river projected not only onto the curtain of leaves but also on the low truck stretching out over the river. It is a mesmerizing, ever-changing pattern
Holding onto the willow stump at the halfway point on my journey, I stop to look around. Nearby I notice the white, waving light on the water, the green banks from which bare trees emerge, and a moorhen. Further away I notice a pylon, a tree covered hill, and a gull. I listen and hear a crow, a father and child playing, a distant road, and the wind.
In this spot a few months ago were dozens of azure blue damselflies. It was alive with spring then. Much less life to speak of now. The kingfisher is not to be found today either.
But then I see a Wren. I spot it from across the far side of the river and carefully steer towards it as it dashes about in a small overhanging tree. The silent, slow progress of the kayak allows me to move in much closer than I ever could by foot. So much so I can see the pale strip that is a stroke across its little dark eye. I watch it dash - impossibly quick - from branch to branch for a little while until I lose the tiny bird into the foliage.
I watch the colours and texture of the water for a while as my kayak spins on the spot of its own accord. I notice how the water changes colour between every angle, forming a picture it is in its own right, not just a reflection.
All patterns on the water are precious and temporary. As clouds pass in front of the sun or the wind rises and falls, the ripples and the glint on the surface change.
No two moments in time are the same here on the river.