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Rainy Day Inspiration: A River Walk

Writing.ie | Member Blog

Chris Mills

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I am trying to come up with a suitable topic for this blog entry while gloomily surveying the dripping Whitebeam tree that I can see from the living room window. I keep trying to persuade myself that the sky is lightning a little but given that the afternoon is now drawing on I think I should really stop kidding myself any longer. It is a wet and gloomy day and that is all there is to it. Now we can move on.

Having got my weather report out of the way, I am now forced to concede that a good shower of rain can often prove to be a bonus. I have often had a good wet walk (well protected from the elements of course) and have enjoyed the experience of carelessly sloshing through puddles and disregarding the mud. It does help however to be able to go home to warmth and a bowl of hot soup rather than to have to sit shivering at work. Many a time I’ve not been prepared for the rain (I know, how foolish of me) and have had to buy spare socks, and once even trousers before going in to work. Not the best start to the day whatever your job.

But, to be able to return home after a rewarding tramp through the wet grass, tomato soup in prospect and a chance to sit and work on the idea that you’ve germinated during the walk; a completely different matter indeed. For me the rainy day walk can mean the difference between managing to write an article (or at least the bones of one) and staring vainly at a blank screen or sheet of paper. One of my favourite walks to take is along the banks of the Dodder and according to my mood I might choose to go either up or downstream. In addition, whether or not I want to tangle with the many dogs and their walkers along the stretch that we have dubbed ‘Dog Park’ might be relevant to my walking direction.

Lately the volume of the normally playful Dodder considerably increased by the rain has added a different tenor to the watery inspiration potential. The sound is much louder with the river hurling spray high in the air over the weirs. The speed and volume of the water makes me stop and marvel at the change in atmosphere. A fast river demands attention from the watcher and rather than being conducive to thought is potentially more distracting. Unless you are trying to plot an exciting drama I suppose, then the fierceness and tension of the unleashed natural force could give your thoughts (and your protagonists) an extra kick. 

Since I have caught myself standing on the squelchy riverbank pondering things in general, I decide that I might as well scan the water and the banks for any wildlife. We see herons along the river and they’re frequently standing in a contemplative attitude too; only their object is food (and it’s usually still swimming at the time). Recently I stood watching a dipper industriously diving for food on the top of a weir. It seemed completely unperturbed by the forces around it but just kept right on dipping. The real joy though is to spot a kingfisher. The bird swoops past so fast that before you have really registered that it was there, it’s gone again leaving an electric blue flash in your mind’s eye.

With that highlight of the walk still in my thoughts, I make my soggy way home again and feel refreshed. Inspired too? I hope so…

(Thanks to Elizabeth Rose Murray for prompting me to think about gloomy days and puddles)


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