We took a nice autumnal walk to the shops yesterday, the sun was out, the leaves are turning and children are running around either vastly underdressed or crazily overdressed for the season. The ducks are hanging out together in the sunshine now that the fighting for space and mating partners has stopped and some guy was sitting dipping the end of his fishing rod in the pond while having a loud phone conversation with the phone wedged between the ear and shoulder. People were walking their dogs, getting their children out of the house, squirrels busy collecting all the food they can get their little paws on.
Down by the river a group of middle to old age men are busying themselves pulling rubbish and scrap out from under the bridge. On the opposite verge is a skip overflowing with mudcaked dripping shopping trolleys and old bicycles, there is a little makeshift table and people are standing around coordinating having cups of tea and generally keeping their spirits up in the unshakeable belief that they are doing a good thing. Three blokes on the bridge with a hook and a rope are heaving at yet another trolley slowly rising from the Ouse, the water dripping from it forming a glittering chain of droplets like a sparkling diamond necklace.
A tween is walking across the bridge, head sunken deep into his hoodie with the knowledge that he too contributed to that pile of trolleys, some dark nearly forgotten night with his mates thinking that throwing the trolly from the bridge was the best this town had to offer at that precise moment and the fact is it probably was.. just like today standing there and watching the old best come back up and become the new best the town had to offer again.
Fifteen years from now that same tween might be standing on this bridge, holding the end of the rope and taking his turn in the great shopping trolley migration again, having a cup of tea and a triangular sandwich, not a beer and a spliff. Or maybe he'll be the guy up to his armpits in the Ouse, fishing about in the murky waters for the next bit of scrap to hang on the hook, having long since given up the hope that the waders would stop him from getting wet, or maybe he'llbe the guy on the riverbank, dripping in his muddy trousers and asking around for a hanky to dry off his mobile phone...
The shops were busy, much busier than any of this activity that all seemed to be going down in a quiet muffled contemplative way but then capitalism always was more slash and burn, more swashbuckling than environmentalism. However, we all slow down eventually, it's just that some of us manage to do it early enough to enjoy this life, in all it's wonderous complexity.
Photo by plurabella © 2009