So I popped down the hill to the river today to just check everything was as it should be in my duties as bailiff for the angling club. It isn’t too far across laverstock down and along the narrow single track lane that winds its way under the railway and a walk is always welcome.
I had to stop and peer over the bridge of course, I mean who doesn’t have to do that when crossing any body of water, and as I stopped two roe deer bounced away across the rough meadow towards the tree line.
From the bridge the river looks perfect in its spring coat of green. There’s a fair flow of glass-clear water, just below bank level, and fronds of lithesome weed dance lazily in the current.
Flies dot the air above the water, catching the morning light as if for a millisecond trapped in amber.
The winter, where it felt like it rained from October until March (I know, but it feels like it did), has not quite done with the meadows. Every footstep sinks and makes a heartening squelch. The riverbanks themselves are for a large part nothing but mud, the spring grass not having yet taken hold and started to cover the nutrients left behind as winters gift.
There are no footprints in the mud except deer and bird. I leave a single trail of size nine-and-a-half prints behind me as I carefully walk tight to the fence.
A pandemic might be the reason that there are no anglers here, but in all honesty I think that the club would have had to close this anyway to allow the bank to recover.
A single swan effortlessly glides away from me, unfazed by my presence. The air is alive with birdsong.
I breathe deep.
Lockdown may not be as bad for me as for many, and for that I am incredibly thankful, but oh my, does it feel good to kneel down and trail a hand in the water, to hear that happy chat as the water tugs at my fingers.