Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Arun at Greatham

The River Arun

The sky seems huge, an endless sheet of towering grey clouds, their tops cleaved off by the jet stream. Rain falls in sheets, and I stand on a carpet of sodden pendunculate oak leaves under trees that career from side to side like the masts of some storm-bound fleet on the open ocean. Water runs from everywhere, is everywhere, is everything.

I wait for the peregrine, but she doesn't come. Nothing flies in this maelstrom. I imagine her driven mad by hunger, unable to hunt. I scan the banks for kills, but there is nothing. I count the moorhen in the garden of Quell Farm, but there are no more and no less than yesterday. I scan the brooks where pochardwigeon and a solitary great black-backed gull mix with huge numbers of mallard. Creatures everywhere hunch up against the wind driven rains.

Nothing flies and nothing moves. A sudden urge to leave is over-powering and not even the the brightening of the sky and the promise of watching the short eared owls hunting hungrily across the inundated water meadows can keep me here.

I beat a melancholy retreat.

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