River dipper

I take a deep breath and turn to my family with a wry smile. I walk out until I can walk no more. Out of my depth, my feet lift from the slippery river bed and I slowly swim in circles beneath the alders. Here I am, I still exist, and despite the initial shock! The water is enveloping. My breath is quick, snatched through clenched teeth. The water is icy here in shadow. I have all the time in the world to adjust; it’s a beautiful day.

As I reach out in symmetrical waves, like an oversized amphibian, flora brush against my bare ankles. Sun light sparkles on circling ripples. I decide to make for the light and some heat, relishing every move, stretching every sinew of my ageing body. But the water is deeper here and, beneath those glinting stars, jet black. There will be big fish I can’t see. Deep breath, swim on against the flow, aware that I don’t feel cold anymore. Perhaps all feeling is lost. It doesn’t matter! So I relax a little and take in the brightness, the sun’s heat on my face, glimpsing the movement of my hands beneath the water. The air is damp, earthy and organic.

The flow is suddenly faster here, deceptive river! I have to kick my legs with energy, freestyle, boiling the water. An electric thought races through my mind ~ what if I am swept away? And then, just as quickly, the thought is gone.

I turn to face downstream and the riffles below this perfect pool on the Wye. Small boulders and shallow white water give clue to where I could emerge, if I just let go…

There is a dipper dipping there, with a white chest like a cotton ball against the teals and tans of the river. My decision is swift. I swim directly to the riverbank, avoiding this beauty who is hunting for his life. I don’t want to disturb him. A quick burst of energy and my feet find purchase in the shallows, currents pulling at my feet ~ the river desires me to return. I can’t help grinning and feel the rush of warmth as blood returns to my skin.

It is a meditation, river swimming. Try it, but somewhere safe and don’t go alone. It’s liberating and free of charge. Plus, it reminds us we are alive and at one with nature. Enjoy.

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