What can I say? Yesterday I had the most incredible wild encounter of my life.
As I slipped into the river I felt my body instantly become a part of it, feeling the motion of it and the coolness against my skin. This is why I love river swimming, because I'm a part of a place I honour so deeply but little did I know that today I was actually going to mould with the water so well that it would reveal it's most royal of secrets.
A little way up from the entry point the silt disappears and your legs are left to inky depths. If I tell you I like this place because I find it unnerving it sounds strange but I like to be reminded that nature is bigger than me. Theres a slight bend in the bank where an elder hangs low skimming the surface like a permanent thirsty visitor. For a second I thought it was a rusty coloured leaf but autumn is a while away yet. Then the leaf bobbed and bobbed again to reveal a gem like blue in this shadowy tangle of branches. A kingfisher.
There he was all but five feet away from me. A treasure of the river. He did not mind my presence, not one little bit. I held my breath through fear of him darting but I need not have worried for we spent a good 15 minutes together as I floated ever so slightly closer until I was just an arms length from his tiny body. I saw everything, all the tiny perfect details of his decadent feathers down to the pure white glint of his keen hunters eye. Luckily the river had shallowed and I knelt underwater on the slippery bones of the river.
I have been lucky to see many kingfishers, never this close always a flash heading down river. However the thing that really captivated me was seeing him in the darkness, although so close and so bright my human eyes kept fading him into the black almost like they themselves could not believe what they were seeing. This darkness made me feel like I'd slipped between worlds and I have to admit it was pretty hard to come back.
With a sharp syrupy call he finally flew and with one last gift he passed the top of my head so closely I could feel the wind pass over him.
I always knew my heart belonged to the river and yesterday I left a large part of it amongst those weedy banks.