As a child, I was always drawn to the river. I wasn’t a lonely child but I was the first cousin of one. My parents worked hard on the farm and my brother who was 5 years older spent a lot of his time helping them.
I was too small to help for many jobs, I was only getting in the way, so the dog and I spent our time at the river.
I called it a river, but really it was a mountain stream with cold fresh water rushing over the rocks in a hurry to get to the slow moving river and be on it’s way to the sea. It was freezing but the dog and I danced around in it like it was St. Tropez.
It was better than St. Tropez, it changed with the seasons, deep brown water barrelled through the trees over the rocks, clean out over the waterfall after a storm. It would fill your 10 year old wellies with water. Moving so fast it would take you off your feet and many’s the time it did.
I would bounce rocks in the murky water and the dog would try to catch the splash with his paws or in his mouth, until we were both drenched and freezing and had to go home.
In the summer I would squeeze the soft moss under my toes and sit on the edge of the waterfall and dangle my feet in the running water to keep cool. The dog was always by my side with a big canine grin and the confidence that he was doing his job minding me.
Then there was the bridge, the cement bridge with seats on either side. When we were younger and my brother came with me, we would race from side to side taking it in turns to catch each other. The long cold cement seats were den. Sometimes an imaginary monster lived there and the echo of my screaming and the dog barking with delight must have been a strange sound to anyone crossing the bridge overhead.
When I was tired and hungry, I would have a picnic on a rock in a sunny spot and read my book. Books about the swiss alps and mysteries to be solved, books about far away places but none so magical as this place.
I imagined that when the dog and I were not there, baby rabbits and badgers and birds would take over keeping the river company. Splashing about, slipping on the rocks, laughing. Their anxious mothers tut tutting at their juvenile play.
Even now, when I return to the river with my children, I see how their faces light up as their wellies fill with water and the briars tangle their hair, the years slip away and I feel like I am a child again, free from any worries. I grin like the dog, let my wellies fill with water and smile. It feels great to be back in this magical place.