Today I am filled with optimism. The weather began to improve yesterday late afternoon and I dashed back to Still Pool for another nifty 40 minute swim as the sun nudged down behind the trees sending random shafts of light lancing through to the river and the sky above, cloudless, faded from pale towards darker shades of blue. This morning the sky is mostly cloudless and there is barely a hint of breeze moving the tree tops. The horizon turns from pink to orange to golden and sunlight lances into the kitchen lighting up the steam from my coffee cup.
Golden light filters through the redwood trees, though the mornings no longer have the warmth of mid-June that scented the air with pine resin, and reflects up off the water making the river bank trees glow. My, my, it must have been raining somewhere, the river is up a clear 10cms on yesterday.
10cms (or 4 inches in Brexit money) does not sound much I grant you, but across 5m of river that is a lot of extra water trying to get somewhere in a hurry. And it has a slight extra chill edge to it as I wade in to the still water in the lee of the rocks.
The water deepens sharply and in 3 paces I can no longer touch the bottom with outstretched toes, but here the water is almost still. I swim a few brisk strokes down to the shallows and turn upstream into the line of bubbles that mark the line of the fastest flowing water. The water is certainly in a hurry to get somewhere. My shoulders are still a little tired after yesterday and they ache and complain as I push into the flow, with each stroke barely advancing me a head’s length.
My direct route up the pool eventually takes me out of the faster flowing water and into the shallows on the inside of the bend, though even here this morning despite the placid looking surface the water is fairly racing along. It is only ½ way up the pool that there is a short, still patch of water and I can catch my breath, but not for long. I am soon in the shallows, the water surface chops and splashes hiding the randomly placed boulder hazards. I find one of them with my knee but only discover ½ an hour later when I am drying that I found it quite hard and it was quite sharp and I am leaking a red streak all down my shin. Ah, the joy of cold water.
I am abreast the dipper rock (the dipper is not at home), another fast flowing and choppy patch of water is in front of me, only 1m across but it takes a dozen strokes to clear it to the still water in the lee of the next rock. Across from me towards the far bank there is a moss covered rock I use as another marker, or there should be, it was there yesterday evening a little green oasis in the flow, but now it is entirely submerged.
I push off and float the first 5m being whooshed along by the flow, the water is too shallow to swim this side without kicking the stones of the river bed. Where the water calms a little it is deeper and I race back down the centre line of the pool leaning in to the left hand curve past the diving rock and I’m back where I started. It has taken 13 minutes, same as always, for the round trip, but instead of the usual 8 up and 5 back, this has been more like 10 up, 3 back.
Despite the apparently free ride back I was swimming as fast as I could and am now a little breathless. Various muscles are also complaining; ‘Shut up, this is good for you!’
One down, two to go.
And the forecast is good for this evening.