Monday, 9 July 2007

A short stroll to the canal

As I enter the park through the gate I leave every day life behind me. I'm standing under a tall avenue of plane trees which are as high as a church and extend as far as my eye can see to my left and my right. The branches provide slowly moving shade and a similar tranquility that you might find in a cathedral.

I leave the protection of the trees and enter the open country of the park and am exposed to the sun which feels hot. There are few people around, most walking dogs, and I can hear dried leaves crackling underfoot. I pass the bandstand which stands empty in a stand of trees. Occasionally I see someone practicing martial arts in there but not today. As I move on I spy one or two cyclists in the distance; then feeling a breeze hear it whistling through the trees. Now I am approaching the canal - the object of my walk - and become aware of a number of crows standing on the grass which reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock's film The Birds. This feels slightly menacing but is swiftly replaced with the intoxicating scent of Honeysuckle which I luxuriate in but oddly can't locate.

Here I leave the park and walk onto the tow path of the Hertford Union Canal. I am aiming for the Top Lock as opposed to any other lock. There's one narrow boat moored by the side of the canal and I can just discern the people on it talking. I can hear more birdsong now I am by the canal but they are ha
ving to compete with the sounds of crashing coming from the industrial units opposite. Two very large birds swim gracefully by and I wonder if they are swans or ducks as I turn left towards my goal. While I am enjoying the sounds of bees buzzing, birds whooshing and butterflies fluttering silently by my eyes are distracted by a number of industrial plastic sacks lying in the water by the side of the canal. They look as though they have been there for a very long time.

I forget the bags as soon as I spot the blackberry bushes and hoping for a free treat (although this is only July) feel mildly disappointed when I see that none of the fruit is ripe yet. Then my butterfly mind is occupied by another new sight which I've never seen before. It's on the opposite bank and set in a housing development. It's a sculpture and at first glance it looks like a horse pulling a carriage. On the other hand it could just as easily be a horse towing a rowing boat and what I had thought was the awning of the carriage could also be describing a wave of water. I can see there is a small notice by the sculpture, but I will have to wait until I've worked out how to get over to that side of the canal before I can read it, and that won't be toda

I continue my stroll towards the Top Lock accompanied by the drone of an aeroplane and in the distance I can see the constant stream of traffic on the A12, which although not a motorway might as well be one. The traffic noise is drowned by the torrent of water rushing through the gates of the lock and it smells seaweedy which strikes me as odd since we are inland. I have reached my goal but find I have to share it with a couple who are having a romantic moment. They are oblivious to my presence but I am aware of them so leave them to their privacy. I can come back another day.

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