Down to the river

On the day we learn that the most powerful nation on the planet – that was once hailed as the leader of the free world – are planning to withdraw 50 year old women’s rights, I head to the water. My wild swimming has been irregular since the autumn, but this changes with today. I’ve reconnected with Al Alvarez, I’ve watched The Ponds and it’s time to follow their example.

As always, the water doesn’t disappoint. The cold burns and nature is so teeming with life that the river itself feels like a lifeform. Fish jump, birds fly, leaves grow, trees stretch and bow their branches and release their seeds into the wind. People walk, cycle, chat and read, the cows graze, watch and shit. A mother mallard with five brand new ducklings swim past, and I take care to avoid them so as not to enrage the protective parent. I swim on, my breathing and my heart rate adapting to the soothing wild.

My anxiety washes away, and I feel cleaner and lighter. It doesn’t fix the problems of the world, or even my own problems. But it makes me feel better for a moment to enjoy and value that which is at threat: nature, health, and safety.

Swimming spot at Sheeps Green, Cambridge. Photo by J. Zarins, 03 May 2022

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