By a Lido, after Rain

All the fragile heat built up in the last week is blown away. One hardy father (a weekday lunchtime regular) and his happy, enthusiast son are the only ones in: “Let’s do a length of breaststroke — race this time.” says the boy, and the father is game, sets off, fast. Doesn’t see, as I do, that the boy has been distracted by a float: Is trying to throw himself onto it in a seal-like motion, only to have it go away from him, back to the starting end.

I smile, liking them: their defiance of the weather; their being together, out of doors, without equipment, on the weekend — the type of simple companionship I had with my mother in early childhood and which I am recovering with her again now.

For us, as with this father and son, it is happening in and around water: She was twenty years held back by her weight but when I began to swim here three years ago to offset the soul-destroying back pain, she — the shyest of women — began, bravely, to take lessons herself. She has lost three stones and they feel like those to us both: great, heavy rocks have been rolled away and light has been let back in; love of life has begun to flow. She can get back, with care, with support, to my childhood beach with me, is thinking that this summer — for all she’s 74 —  she just might get her old ply surfboard back out… We might do a week’s road trip and swim together at Penzance, Chagford, Buckfastleigh, Bude…

Lidos as restorative, redemptive spaces then.

Before I pack up and rejoin my family across town , I sit for a few minutes, hands in lap: that happy ability to sit just looking that I got not from mindfulness or Buddhist tradition but from Granny Shadrick, the other indispensable woman in my childhood, whose whole entertainment — apart from snooker on her black-and-white set, and the town’s annual pantomime, its Fire Service Jumble Sale — came from nature.

Knowing her only in widowhood, when the farm was gone, this was the view from the kitchen sink that sustained her: Starlings, whose greedy ways with bacon rind and bread she battled daily through their season; someone else’s sheep beyond the back wall moving in patterns familiar to her since earliest childhood; clouds she could read as surely as I my schoolbooks. I carry her with me now and love best the times, as now, when I feel to see as she did. I sit looking and understand how this pool has become for me what the field behind the bungalow was for her. A world within the world.

This extract from: Scroll 01: Line 02: 48-91ft: Day 6 (Sun 29 May 2016): Conditions: Dry after the storm, light breeze drying the leaves.

Thunder Only Happens When Its Raining

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