This morning began with an early walk with the dog. With the sun shining and a heavy dew it was a magical walk along the river. Spiderwebs and seedheads were kissed with sparkling drops of dew and, in the bright sunshine they were illuminated like miniature sculptures draped in silver. Inspired by what I saw I composed a Haiku in my head as we walked;
“Autumn morning dew
Sparkles in the bright sunshine
Like silver treasure”
A little further along the river, the dog stopped and stared at something in the tree. Assuming it was a squirrel I chuckled knowing how they tease him with their chatter while safely out of reach. But as I drew closer I realised it was in fact an Egret. It perched on a branch, looking quite elegant with it’s long legs and pure white feathers. We stood a while; dog, bird and I, until it gracefully launched itself into the air and flew across the meadow. The dog bounded along beneath it, excitedly trying to keep up.
With the walk coming to an end, and the sun feeling quite warm now my thoughts turn to the sea. “Perhaps I should make the most of this glorious weather?” October sea swims are like a bridge between the warmer temperatures of September and the transition into winter swimming. When the sun is shining and winds are low at this time of year, it is the ideal time to swim, and begin acclimatising the body to the colder water.
So within half an hour I am in the sea. The sun on my face, body immersed in cold water, I swim out towards the mast off shore where the cormorants like to gather. A boat is slowly making it’s way along the shore, closer than usual. As it nears I call to the crew who reveal they are doing a seabed survey. I swim back to shore to avoid getting in their way.
With a flask of coffee, I join the local sea swimmers at our regular spot by the pier. The sea is beautifully calm, and the cliffs look golden in the sunlight. I notice a huge piece of driftwood has been washed up beneath the pier, a few yards from where I sit. I briefly consider it’s size and whether I would be able to get it home with me. Driftwood is a gift from the sea and is my preferred material for my pyrography creations.
I mention to my fellow swimmers my idea and before I know it, I have volunteers to help me carry it up the beach! I would never have been able to carry it on my own, and yet again I feel lucky to be part of such a supportive sea swimming community. Using a Silky saw that I happen to have with me I take off some of the branches in order for it to fit into the back of the truck. But it still hangs out the back, meaning it will be a slow, careful journey home!
The driftwood now lies in the yard outside the workshop. I love knowing that by using this wood, it won’t go to waste. All that time it took to grow will not be without purpose. Despite it’s unfortunate uprooting due to coastal corrosion, and the aimless drifting at sea, it has landed as a gift on the shore. I will use this wood to create; to bring a new purpose to it’s form and in this process it not only reminds me that not all endings are final, but that gifts can be found in the simplest of things