a bike ride, a river and a song

05-01-10_1555Yesterday was a funny day. I managed to do a number of small but necessary things, but the day slipped away to a point where I had to abandon my plans to go swimming. It was bitterly cold, but also very beautiful. Brilliant sunshine illuminated a vivid blue sky.

In order to contribute something to my miserable exercise regime, I decided to go for a bike ride. Off I set, choosing to go down to the river and turn left, instead of turning right towards town as I usually do. What a treat.

I had in my head a tune written by two friends of mine that I was planning to put a lyric to. But though I continued to hum it to myself as I made my way sedately along the towpath, my mind was completely absorbed by the transcendental beauty before me. In the clear winter light, natures endless dance unfolded, mostly undisturbed by any human appearance. Occasionally boats slid by, with oarsmen, and accompanying cyclists barking instructions. From time to time, a lone figure could be seen pacing alongside a dog.

Otherwise there was me and the gently winding river, its water lapping softly against the banks. I cycled past ducks and swans, bare trees bending out over the water, and a village looming slowly with an old church tower and a pub by the water. On my return journey, riding back beside the river towards the sunset that was turning into dusk, I felt warmly, humbly grateful.  Here was the England I love and long for, alive and well after all.

This once gentle, rolling landscape is now so overrun with urban and suburban sprawl, its easy to forget how lovely what remains of our undeveloped country is. Unless we make an effort to go find it, the closest we get to the quiet rural backwaters is zooming down a four lane highway between one town and another and gazing out the window.

When I got home I sat down with the tune still running through my mind, and wrote a lyric more or less describing my bike ride and the effect it had on me. Its not that great. The bike ride was better. Still I’m glad I wrote it down.

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