Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Clio puts her foot in it

I gave up on a writing project today which wasn't going overly well. I decided to take advantage of the reasonable weather and take the best of all Labrador Retrievers for a walk along the mighty North Esk which runs down the hill from the Rectory. There's one spot where the river flows in a slow and determined manner in a stream 20 feet across and a foot and a half deep.

As I sat there on the rock watching the river I found that I was looking at about four things all at once. There was, first of all, the reflection in the water of what was behind and above me - the patch of blue sky amid the clouds and the canopy of Beech and Red Pine. Then there were the little clumps of white bubbles on the surface of the stream flowing steadily by my feet at the pace of a brisk walk. Around them on the surface of the water were little eddies, the mild boiling-up of water forced up over rocks beneath the surface and small whirlpools a half inch deep. Within the water - the odd bit of detritus - a leaf or two - being carried downstream. These never travel evenly - they are subject to invisible currents. Their movement is hesitant. They tumble. They wiggle about in fits and starts.

Pushing 50 as I am now, the North Esk has only one message. Things move downhill., heading off to their end and destination. The arthritis in the spine, the word forgotten for a moment, the impatience with things said by younger people purporting to be novel but which are just recycled rubbish from other days. Yeah, I guess I'm 49 alright!

And so rivers have the same message as waves hitting the sand. The regularity of the beat, the inexorable course of the path - waves beating things down - rivers carrying things away. I weave together something in my head which I'll preach about another day - a sermon about releasing things, a sermon about the experience of change and decay, a sermon about submission to time and transformation.

At this point Clio decided she needed a drink and so padded past me into the water. She waded out and drank a few mouthfuls, muddied the bottom, walked up stream. Then she climbed out. As she passed me her sodden tail smacked my trouser leg and soaked it. Helpfully, she shook the water out of her coat right beside my ear and I found myself pushing her away crossly. She hadn't a clue how she'd offended and looked hard-done-by.

My sombre reflection on death, decay and entropy was now lost. The mood had gone. There'd been too much volition here - too much tramping upstream - too much impatience with sameness and uniformity - an unwillingness to leave things as they must be.

Bloody dog! I'll have to start again.

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