June is a month of light, and of contrasts.
A pale blue-grey dawn breaks over the river… And, somewhere, because all water is the same water, there is a woman rowing across the Pacific Ocean. Naked and sun-burnished she cleans up flying fish that die on her deck and broadcasts over the satellite about her progress. All around her are waves and waves. Day twenty-seven: not reached Hawaii yet. How does she not run out of things to blog about?
At the same time I am standing ankle-deep in the cold clear river, watching the sun come through mist and drizzle, and listening to the sound of tiny raindrops hit the water, like a thousand quiet musical pinpricks. This is the first day of summer. We walk into the river to wash, in borrowed clothes and shoes, bleary-eyed from staying up and waiting for this dawn. A pair of fishing boats suspended between reflection and horizon silently watch us from the water. Somewhere, that woman is rowing across the Pacific, or sleeping in the cabin, or eating her rationed, nutritiously tasteless meals, or hiding under her canopy from the midday scorch. This baffles me. Lisa’s eyes look as green as the lush forest behind us. We have come to the water. The sun rises in the east.
(We are, after all, solar beings. One can’t keep directions by the moon, who moves liberally in a slow dance around the earth, playfully favouring all directions and none. There is no east by the moon, nor west. Travel could get complicated. But, perhaps, it would add interest in the long run.)
The shores of the river have been sanded over, but it is a thin layer of brownish dirt, compacted and severe. I miss burying my feet in the hot sand, so hot and soft, that one must thrust the entire foot with each step underneath the top layer and into a cooler place, so as not to burn oneself. Gentle in the early morning, it is on the walk home that the sand is hottest and progress is slow, weighed down by a day’s sun and beach, salty skin and tangled hair. And all the water is the same water. There is green surf and long seaweed in that past vision, and is it the same green surf and impossibly hot midday sand that are there somewhere, as I stand by the river, miles and miles west and north and around the globe? Water, connected not only in space but also in time. The same waters that carried Helen of Troy, and Columbus, and oil tankers, splash against my ankles. It is the same virgin water that never saw a white man or a boat with clouds for sails. It is the same perilous water where some made their fortunes, while others drowned, sailing on rafts and on boats going against wind and current.
For a brief moment time hangs in the mist, the sun somewhere in front of us, obscured in pearly blue glow. Some seagulls wake on the sand and make a ruckus. Suspended between history and obscurity, between memory and the present moment, life is lived on rafts, in bubbles, coming up and sinking back into the river.