It seems appropriate to start this last ramble of the year with a ray of sunshine falling on the Clyde river in the Lanark highlands. Ice and snow are slow in forming at this bend - the river is an old one, and her currents run fast and free. She's a wild spirit, a veritable crone among rivers and not the slightest bit intimidated by winter and subzero temperatures - she will resist freezing over as long as she is able to draw breath and tempt the long white season with her impetuous winding ways.
On one of the coldest days of the year, I can stand on this slope and listen as the river sings her way along under the ice. At times, she seems to be singing a duet with the wind, and there's a kind of Zen counterpoint at work, two unbridled entities utterly independent in their contours and rhythm, but meticulously interwoven and seamless in their harmonies. Putting all notions of complex orchestration and liquid choreography aside, there's lovely music in the air on such icy winter days. The sound of moving water is (and always has been) a leitmotif in this old life of mine, and I sometimes think that my existence can be measured in rivers, currents and little woodland streams rather than cocktails, jewelry, pairs of shoes and coffee spoons. This is the right place to be standing on the trailing edge of the calendar year.
In springtime, I watched the willows on the other side turn golden yellow, a little later as the river overflowed her banks and published her claim to the fertile fields on both sides. In summer, I counted bales of hay, photographed deer and wild turkeys feeding, watched the sun go down over the same old willows on the farther shore. I have wept here many times when someone I love passed beyond the fields we know, once for hours when my sweet Cassie trotted across the Rainbow Bridge. This old river has seen it all.
This is where I tried to collect my thoughts when a crucial medical therapy stopped working a few years ago, and that happened again just a few months ago. I wasn't worried about shuffling off the mortal coil either time - was certain I would be back in some form or other (a leaf, a twig, a small stone, a clod of earth?). I was unraveling from the strain of endless medical "toing and froing" though, and I thought I might pass out of the great wide world as mad as a hatter, not a dignified departure by any stretch of the imagination. The river worked her magic that day and knitted me back together again, but she did it to her own pattern, and it could be reasonably argued that I am a little wilder now, a little more peculiar than I was before.
Thank you for sharing Friday rambles with me this year. May we share many more of these potterings in the shiny new year that is waiting for us just around the bend.