Saturday, 30 May 2009

The stream mysterious glides beneath

We spent a lovely day today punting down the Cam to Grantchester and back, with Anne Cunningham for company, me on the pole, my son on the paddle (for emergencies) and the womenfolk providing the conversation. In passing, we saw reed buntings, robins, mallards, moorhens, damselflies and naked male buttocks

There is something magical about the river. Even on a busy day like today, there are moments when there seems no one about at all and there is no sound but the rippling of the water and the twitter of birds. Everything was so green: the water surface reflecting the overarching trees, and the drifting river weed beneath. Rupert Brooke describes it thus in The Old Vicarage, Grantchester:

Oh! there the chestnuts, summer through,
Beside the river make for you
A tunnel of green gloom, and sleep
Deeply above; and green and deep
The stream mysterious glides beneath,
Green as a dream and deep as death.

Death didn't seem much in evidence to us, though there is always something melancholy about a river somehow. And I don't necessarily mean that in a negative way. There is just something about the pace of a river that lends itself to quiet contemplation.

We picnicked at the foot of the hill by Grantchester village in the shade of a willow tree, while a succession of punts, kayaks, canoes and the odd swan, floated by in the bright sunshine. It was idyllic actually.

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