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Saturday, April 02, 2005

To Paint by a River

Nobody else around. A Belted Kingfisher flew in large circles just over the water. Beside me on the bank a large Canada Goose honked happily. Seconds later the noise bounced off the bridge. The concrete bridge was built in 1927 to replace the old steel toll bridge down nearer the lock where the old toll house is now a restaurant. Across the river were six swans along with some Canada Geese, a heron and some other geese. A six foot high film of mist over the river stretched down to the weir.
It was about six in the morning. People were still asleep in their homes and in their boats. I was hungry. Hadn't eaten for miles, or hours. Checked the local store a few times but it showed no signs of opening.

Painters Meet

I met him four times. The first time he came out of the garden of the big white house with his ladder and painting materials. We said hello and swapped compliments of the morning's weather. By the fourth meeting we were indulging in a fuller conversation and he was finished painting the gable end of the house.

The Weekend Has Gone To The Dogs

By seven the Saturday morning dog walkers were out. Nearly all were elderly men. The dogs were equally old and lifeless.

After The Tree

Having descended the tree shortly after three a.m. I had walked to the bridge. Tried to work out which direction was east before the sun rose. In the dark I no longer had any fear. I knew this part of the country was safe. It had taken me all night to know but I knew now and I was certain. Only three cars were to pass me before I reached the bridge.

Walking in Darkness

I had to cross the road to within touching distance to read the road sign. I would stay on this road. The smells again. The night before I'd been on a track and the smell was so damn obvious. Rabbits. Like when you stick your head in a hutch. I looked at the field beside me. I counted thirty. They seemed to be playing. Then they saw me and stopped. This morning it wasn't rabbits. It was horses and cattle. My sweater was damp through with the dew. A lighter shade of blue in the sky. That's east then.

The Best Kept Town

Lights ahead. A town. Even the police station has a long drive. Might be dark but it was bright enough to see this place was spotless. Surely they didn't need a police station. There's the placque for the town. Current holder of the best kept town of its size in the county. The overhanging town clock said 3:50 a.m. I photographed it. I liked the look of the local Post Office. Still very dark. Keep going. The street lights went on for quite a while, as did the sidewalk.

Towards Sunrise

Cocks were crowing. I could make out the trees and animals in the fields towards the river. Town lights in the distance. A gentle dirty orange blur hung over where I reckoned the city was. Fresh. Peaceful. It was gorgeous. Signs to towns I'd never heard of. You could breathe in the damp grass. Tempted to lie in the field and wait for the sun but already decided I wanted to see sunrise from the bridge.


Is that a weir? Definitely not a waterfall. Possibly a mill? Yes. There it is. Could hear the water but couldn't see it. I was startled by two ducks just below me who squawked very suddenly and flew away after a noisy flutter. Back to the roads. The sun hadn't arrived but the sky was almost totally lit up. There was the ridge on the far side of the river.

Sound of the Suburbs

Picnic Area Ahead, said the sign which announced the town nearest the bridge. I wonder if I could have slept there? Five a.m. The sun was sneaking up but I still couldn't see it. Streets, four-ways, center turning lanes. This is a town. No movement anywhere except for the continuous clattering of birds. I would've woke up in this cacophony. If I was asleep.

Here Comes The Sun

Left for the city. And the bridge. Past the train station. My dad always says that they were called railway stations when he was younger. They still are, of course. Down the road that leads to the main street. Past the horrible pink castle-like house where I'm told I'd like the lady of the house. I like the church. My camera said it wasn't bright enough yet for a photo. Past a couple of duplexes. To the river.

The River

Rested my legs on the bench outside Tom Sawyer's Restaurant. By lying on the picnic table by the river, on my back and then my front, I had dried my sweater.


My hands were too numb to paint. Or sketch.

Paul Dorrell reminds you

you'll have to surmount enormous odds to ever make a comfortable living from your work; you can't walk away from it because it won't let you...


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