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  • Writer's pictureCrone

River spirit

There was a place on Dartmoor where a small river wound through bare moorland and had formed a little island. Grass, bracken, a few rocks and maybe a stunted hawthorn. Perhaps a rowan. This island was maybe twenty feet long, eight feet wide. That's all. And I wanted to live there.


I wanted to live with the sound of sweet water. Dartmoor water is sweet - no limestone there. And the sound as it tumbles is gentles by the smoothness of the boulders, by moss and granite sand and reeds.


Around, the bleakness of the moor. Not a dramatic landscape. Just heath. The land eroded by deforestation and sheep and burning at the wrong time of year. But still, my land.


That day, I was with friends from university, loud and adventurous. The sky was grey and the bracken had died back beyond its orange flames to a dull tawny burnt ochre. Only granite boulders and the black bark of the hawthorns broke the monotony.


And yet.


How the soul flies free. How the mind empties. The buzzard screams.


Another place where the river bent creating the tiniest oxbow and the water flowed deep. Rachel and I took out ponies - my chestnut roan Syringa and her bright bay Bree - and we swam with them in the stream. Took off the saddles and bridles, let the ponies graze and ate sandwiches and crisps. Chocolate and fizzy pop.


We were, we felt we were, wild. Jumping gorse bushes and chasing each other.


We were invincible.


Thirteen maybe and we'd be gone for hours. Miles from home and no phones.


We were free.


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