First Walk – Following the Avon

Yesterday after writing my introductory post to my collaboration with Kathy Skerritt, I walked out from my house with a pile of paper, some wax blocks, string and a pen.

I followed the road down to the nearest part of the River Avon, which flows down from the Vale of Pewsey, through Salisbury to meet the sea at Christchurch, then took a circular route which passes as near to the path if the river as I can get, meeting it at road and foot bridges, before crossing fields again to get back home.

As I walked I wrote in response to the question “what does this place want to tell me?” and the presumption that “I am it”. I’ve included that writing here unedited, with images from the walk.

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Two Kites come to see me first, carried on the wind and the sound of a tractor, watching for animals cut with the hay.

I see Brian too, his body on a bicycle, legs moving the bike, sun browning his legs, moving slowly round and round.

Here itches my eyes, here shows me Damselflies of two colours – copper and blue. Circling, floating, flapping on wings so light and thin.

I thought that the river would talk to me, about never stopping, keeping going – eddying and moving on. But the river is busy, the Damselflies known and accepted. What about me?

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If I am the river, if I am the Damselfly and the bees, and the white-clumped, pin prick flowered umbellifers, what then?

Can I let go, fall into? Not back, not forward. Here and now.

And what is the river? Why River? Why single it out? Single, Avon, Word.

Muddy the words, pierce the page, walk on because it (the river) never ends.

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Running with the wind that runs along the hedge, and then the black plastic rises up – Roche Court Sculpture – blue, green and sweetly spicy. Shiny, stretched tight, stacked black. Held energy, stewing, steaming, green growth captured. Silage.

A caged Collie calls to me, across the space, cuts through my thoughts and i realise that I didn’t touch it, that warm, taut, sun feeding black.

Everything moves, there is no stillness, dancing, bowing birch branches, my heart, my blood. It’s not just the river that keeps flowing.

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What does this place want to tell me, show me? If I am it, do I look back at myself with the trees? As they dance, do I, and laugh with my head thrown back, up within the branches?

Questions, always questions. Maybe it’s time to be, not questions. Accept the home they offer me.

If I am that tree, then what do I need, to keep me happy, healthy, connected?

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If I am a river, why not a road? Why one thing and not another? The road and the river know each other, they meet and share, they tell of what they know and what they need. Let’s join them.

Not one language but multiples languages. 100 + languages. WE.

Shadow on the page, wind, light, leaf, colour, cloud – a recipe, a symphony, a spell.

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Shared, or One. How can a part of a whole also be a whole? Physics?

Clambering roses, climbing honeysuckle, upright Ash. One over the other, one for the other, to reach insects and open to the sun. Perfect. Not fixed. Responsive, shifting, changing. A river in the trees. A flowing, twisting, climbing river of life.

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The stick has a voice – it marks the ground, marks my vision, calls me to bend down, push against its dry rigidity, hear its quick, sharp, crack.

The wind has multiple voices too – light and shadow, pressure, sound, height, scale, above and below. Against my skin. A collaboration with Poplar leaves, with sunlight and flies that hover, glint, flash and leave.

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The water has another voice. Warmed by the sun, lifted up from wet ground to hang heavy and sour in my nose and mouth.

Blow away my edges, warm through my skin, soak my nasal membranes with perfumed flowers and muddy stink. Fill me with never ending, always flowing, wind flapping leaves. And I will be home again.

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