For some complicated set of reasons, I am not living by a river just now.
I miss being by a river.
I moved lock, stock and barrel to be by a river seven years ago, then again later to be in a cottage in the countryside with a river just the other side of the road, so close that I could hear it gurgling and murmuring whenever you opened a window or stepped outside the door.
Both of these rivers became ‘my’ rivers, part of me, and me them. Both of these rivers dominated my seeing, and my walking, and my photographic practice.
And I miss being by a river.
Happily, most happily, I have found a river where I can walk. I have found (so far) two stretches of it not too far from here. One stretch gives me rolling fields (that remind me of Galloway-home). The other route meanders through a woodland, past banks of snowdrops in winter, reminding me of the river in the wood back home.
(Does one thing always remind us of another, I wonder, is that part of how we see as we get older, one perspective always interwoven with another?)
I discovered there was a term for this: riparian woodland.
Forests and fields, beaches and sea, woods and rivers. The ancient Celts saw the places where two realms meet as being particularly magical. This principle holds true in ecological terms, with waterside forests being rich and valuable habitats – a home to organisms of woodland and water. Riparian woodlands, as they are known (from the Latin ripa – bank), are those on the banks of natural bodies of water and particularly rivers.
The river, the Avon, is liminal, an edge place, the boundary between one county and another.
And I like walking alongside it. I like getting to know the place by getting to know the river, watching patterns and reflections, noticing the light, blinking into the way the place is reflected in and through the water.
It’s where I found the snowdrops.
And where I’m letting myself get lost in learning how to notice and express the shifting texture, pattern and tone of the water, of the river, of the light.