Sunday 1st May 2011
She’s right: the white-petal blossoms; water winking at sunlight; so many shades of green.
And then, the swan. Upstream centre, swimming towards us, sovereign and courteous, earnest but unhurried. An entourage of small ripples. A gliding under the bridge, under our feet.
Nothing is said while we watch the procession of one. Neither of us has a camera to reach for, which pleases me. It’s been that sort of a day.
Bye bye, wavy bunting. We’ve gone hunting that older meaning of ‘remote’. And bluebells and somewhere to picnic. A discreet party, you might say, with trestle tables banned from view.
“I know of a lake. There’ll be nobody there, except maybe Rob,” I’d suggested. “He’s an unpaid, one-man guardian of local wildlife. There’s a rock we can sit on.”
Which we did.
Greylag geese gathered, waiting for us to unpack sandwiches. Once they realised we weren’t titbit-sharing tourists, they turned tails and wandered about, just being geese. The tiny gosling in their midst padded fearlessly from exciting crack in the ground to awesome patch of bare sand. We are both grandparents. We know how to be enthralled by the small.
“I’ve never been to Edinburgh,” she confesses.
“Most teachers are convergent thinkers,” I declare.
We also take in travel, technology, old friends, neural pathways. Rob doesn’t appear. Probably elsewhere in the Forest, looking out for boar, checking on adders. Although the track back is hard and dry, there’s not the tightness in my legs that pavements induce.
The crafts centre is open. I scribble lines over an organic cuppa, while she buys herbs and potters round the pottery.
The Severn plays with history and imagination. A noticeboard displays tide times for mariners. The walk takes us over lock gates and past red standing stones. We have found our own good way of celebrating Englishness.
And then the solo swan, swimming, searching.
“Definitely looking for something. Don’t swans mate for life?”
We walk on, into the evening.