Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Still Waters Run Deep

I walked the River Hodder earlier today; not the whole length you understand, just about two miles of narrow, twisting pebble-banked stream and deep, slow, murky pools hiding their secrets from the damp world above. The Hodder has run its course through villages such as Slaidburn, Tosside, Newton, Dunsop Bridge and Lane Ends for centuries, bringing fresh water from the North Lancashire Moors down to the Trough or Forest of Bowland, one of those well-kept, remote, attractive but hardly unspoilt areas of our green and pleasant land.

Unspoilt is a misnomer! Of course it is spoilt, by the higgledy-piggledy stone-built houses locked together over time in each village, by the long and low farmhouses which litter the valley, by the stark and unwelcoming halls owned by the nouveau-riche who bought them from the families of deceased cotton and wool barons of the 19th century, and by the chain-link fenced sewage plant, all but astride the Hodder in the centre of the valley; this brick built monstrosity, ageing, rusting and weedy leaking its residue of filtrate into these ice-cold waters.

We describe the valley as unspoilt because it is so well maintained, manicured by locals who take pride in their trusteeship. The natural Trough would be forested and unfarmed, a home for small mammals and birds as well as the ghosts of history, those travellers spirited away by accident and evil and buried in the rich and fertile soil. Unspoilt, no, but beautiful and impressive, with sober and unpretentious colours which welcome rather than challenge both residents and visitors.

This is why I sat, stood and leaned alongside the Hodder, peering into the deep and slowly circling pools, searching for trout first but failing that, wondering what secrets these eddies hid. Time does not fly here; change is slow. No reminders of the speed of modern culture, just the bleat of sheep, the chirp of birds, the rustle of wind in the trees and the ripple of water over rock and pebble. Humans may well have changed the look of the Trough with their ploughs and cows, but no motorways or planes, few roads and cars left me to think, dream, ponder and reflect.

Still waters do run deep, as deep as my thoughts, as hidden as my soul, as profound as the blood running through my veins.

2 comments:

Dalva Maria Ferreira said...

From this other margin of the pond, first I must admit that my mastering of the English language is ridiculous, although I studied hard on yonder days... but something tells me that I am facing a masterpiece. What a pleasant description of Nature! And what a happy comparison between the water and the soul! Congratulations, Paolissimo, you write very well.

Sylvanna said...

I totally agree with you; this is quite a very sensitive way of showing how fleeting and intricate our "ripples" of thoughts may be and Paolissimo's surely are... Beautiful piece of nature portrayed by a master of words...