Shall I? Shan’t I?

 The mornings are chillier yet I am still waking early and going out with Selkie. It’s stunningly beautiful in these cloudless early autumn days as I walk out eastwards towards the sun rising stronger than I’ve seen it for many a month. For the past 2 weeks I’ve stopped to have a swim more days than not, but there is that little question starting to creep in. 

Early morning downstream 

Although the air is cold, the water temperature isn’t too bad so once my body realises that I plunge in easily. Once in, I have no regrets:  it’s a magical time, swimming alone in the early morning quiet, only the sound of the birds and the water and feeling the sun’s rays strengthen on my back. The other day just as I started swimming a heron flew over me, I must have startled it, and shortly afterwards a fish jumped way out of the water.

Early morning upstream
I’m being more adventurous after my swimming buddy Clare told me that it’s quite safe to swim away upstream, in places almost too shallow. And I’m swimming more   “river lengths” – once you’re in and swimming it’s not a problem with the cold. These morning swims remind me of another  hero of mine, Roger Deakin. I remember reading   his book Wildwood , there was something about his uncompromising bond with the natural world that spoke to the part of me that has always loved being in nature. 

He wrote about  swimming every day in a moat that surrounded his house and I remember thinking “how cool is that”. I devoured all his books (Wildwood, Waterlog and Notes from Walnut Tree Farm). I loved the fact that he used to sometimes sleep in his shepherd’s hut or an old railway carriage on his land. And of course all the stories about wild places he found to swim in, in his book Waterlog. As an aside, read them if you can!

I don’t know this adventurous part of me that is up for early morning river swims too well, there’s usually a sensible, “got to get on with things” part that takes over. But now I have this unique opportunity right on my doorstep  “I shall” as often as I can!

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