Dear God, thank you for all the sunny weather, but I think my body now has all the vitamin D it will ever need…and I’m a bit tired racing from shadow to shadow like some scuttling insect…
I will never moan about the weather again – it has been glorious in these here parts.
On one occasion when I was recuperating in the shade, an older chap, Roy, walked up with his dog.
‘All my dogs have eaten that grass – it stops them from getting worms,’ he told me, ‘it doesn’t kill them, they come out live…’
Yum! I hear you all cry.
Roy, in his working days, maintained rivers, their banks and their beds. He told me, until about 40 years ago, all the rivers had been ‘gin clear’, teaming with sea trout.
I looked over the side of the bridge we were standing on. That river was about as clear as dishwater – with no life, animal or vegetable, apparent to the naked eye.
I looked up across the beautiful sunlit valley – yes, all fields, all beautiful, met with the vibrant blue of the sky and yet here was one mans melancholy message.
He used to catch fish to supplement his earnings, but in recent times – he tells me – silage and other chemicals from farms have polluted the waters causing this destruction.
He doesn’t blame the farmers – they had to use new methods to feed animals, to feed their crops – to remain competitive – many, he tells me, rely on government grants to get by.
It didn’t take any of my fancy new fandangled university education to tell that this wiry man with tanned leather for skin, was experiencing the loss of his earlier way of life and of some of the hidden beauty of this seemingly flawless canvas.
Further on, I met another older chap with his dog on the south side of a funky little cycle bridge over the river Leven.
I was looking for somewhere to camp, and, given my earlier idiotic experiences with tides, I asked him where would be safe.
He told me that I’d be pretty much safe anywhere near the bridge. He had no idea why, but there hasn’t been a high tide for over a year…
In the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘it would just be my luck…’
I mentioned my conversation with Roy, and he told me about the spectacle of huge schools of fish would come up the the river, swim around in great circles surrounding smaller fish and then devouring them, trawler net style, with their gaping mouths.
He hasn’t seen that bit of natural entertainment for years.
He also told me about the thriving ship building industry there had been in the local town of Greenodd and how now, as the river has silted up over the years, this has become as much of a dream as the fish.
The parallels to be drawn with mental health here are obvious. Even if everything appears to be bowling along famously on the surface, just a little exploration can find out how things really are.
I guess it’s hard to react appropriately if you’re not in possession of the full facts.
Walk a mile