Sunday, September 24, 2006

The River

Last week was, um, challenging. A difficult temp assignment and – more upsettingly - a female friendship under stress. In the coming week I am agreeing the figure for the sale price of the flat with the estate agent, the necessary forms will be signed and I will be tidying as I have never tidied before ahead of the arrival of potential purchasers.

Yesterday afternoon there was a brief hiatus. A trip on the Thames near Richmond on a friend’s boat. I arrived after lunch, nerves still jangling and unsure how the afternoon was going to unfold.

He has the boat moored alongside a landing stage, with a café and a children’s play area nearby. The whole area is thickly wooded with beech and plane trees, their first leaves now just starting to turn. Coming here I am always reminded of the Seurat painting of Parisians on the banks of the Seine ....

In the late summer sunshine we motored upstream past Eel Pie Island to Teddington Lock, where the tidal river ends and the inland river begins. We passed lush and beautiful weeping willows set on lawns reaching down to the river bank, eccentric boathouses, millionaire hideaways and repair yards. We carefully overtook canoeists and waved to fellow sailors. Geese, ducks and moorhens plus the occasional heron watched us go by. In the evening we tied up at the moorings and ambled through to the nearest riverside town for dinner.

A few hours later we walked back along a quiet lane beside the Thames. By now the river was ebbing strongly and the silhouettes of the trees on its banks were black against the night sky. The recent equinox high tide had flooded the roadway, which was still wet and littered with driftwood.

The river is the soul of this place. It can be neutral, dangerous, benevolent. It has a definite and powerful presence.

He drove me home. I don't know where this friendship is going. But I have learned to value constancy, generosity and thoughtfulness when they are offered. I accept them with gratitude and try to reciprocate in kind.

16 Comments:

Blogger Jean said...

Sounds like just what you needed - and a friend who knows just what you need is a nice thing. All the best with everything. I'm sure it's, as you say, a challenging, nerve-jangling time, but I somehow sense a breeze of strength and humour intertwining all around your words here lately which tells me this is a woman facing in the right direction.

11:01 am  
Blogger herhimnbryn said...

Thankyou for that river trip. I felt like I was there, floating along and trailing my hand in the water!
Hope all goes well with the pricing of your home.

12:29 pm  
Blogger Pauline said...

Came across your site while peeking through the comments on another - this is a beautiful place you've created with your thoughts and your photographs.

12:48 pm  
Blogger leslee said...

Sounds like a lovely diversion for you (and nicely described - thank you for sharing it with us). Good luck with this intense period of selling the flat. I hope it goes well and is over reasonably quickly so you can get on with the next phase of your life. And yes, enjoy those generous gifts without question.

1:32 pm  
Blogger Brenda said...

Selling one's home, which isn't easy, not just the showing to strangers of your abode, but the offers that come in and the glimpses of what other people see for their own lives in 'your' space, and then packing, but I run ahead... I hope yours sells to exactly who you would most like and for the price you'd like or better.

What a wonderful river trip! I, too, have a sweet (and attractive) friend generously treating me to dinners, movies, shows, and I'm not sure why, although he's away for about a month, so perhaps it'll become more clear after that. We have such a lot of fun together, I'm accepting our outings as the gifts they are. Without being able to 'go dutch,' I'm thinking perhaps a painting or writing...so I do understand what you say at the end of this beautiful entry about reciprocity. Much support and love, Mary.

3:20 pm  
Blogger LJ said...

This really sounds a great deal better than buying 80 lbs of groceries and then finding that, due to the Rolling Stones concert, only the almighty can get a a taxi.

Sounds, actually, like a great day after a not-so-great week.

I loved the paragraph that begins, "The river is the soul of this place."

7:58 pm  
Anonymous becca said...

What a beautiful breather in the midst of so much to do. Hope the flat sells quickly so you aren't madly cleaning every day.

10:02 pm  
Blogger rdl said...

Lovely post.

1:41 am  
Blogger Jess D'Zerts said...

Glad to hear that things are moving along as they should, Mary, even though it's a bit stressful. The boating excursion sounds like a wonderful change of pace. Good luck selling your place.

6:19 am  
Blogger chuck said...

Nice.

Like the Seurat painting...I can picture that!

Except it is the THAMES...as in 'punting on the Thames'.

And with a kind, generous, and interested/interesting man...why wonder about the future?

If the present is this good, stay in the present...the future will take care of itself (maybe?).

10:14 am  
Blogger Sky said...

so, is this a friend you will be putting geographical space between when you move to your new home?
if so, i hope not too much space.
;)

sounds like a perfect outing on a beautiful day. this was a nice diversion from all the business matters waiting in the wings.

i put my home on the market a few years ago when planning a move to the west coast, and it was difficult to endure the invasion of potential buyers and the challenge of having people discuss my HOME in monetary figures and not take it so personally! afterall, when it is our home, it feels personal! it worked out fine for me, and i was able to close the contract and transfer the title quickly, receiving more money than i ever expected. i wish you the same results and ease. (i must admit though to hiring someone to clean every 10 days while it was being shown to buyers so i didn't have to deal with that additional responsibility while working.) i wish you calm days as you say goodbye to the familiar and move into your new adventure. :)

10:33 am  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

Reading this, I felt the calming effect of your river. And I also felt that the river was the true thing--not the other stress-provoking elements.

There's also a certain elegant mystery in this post.

5:03 pm  
Blogger MB said...

I felt the river threading through this post in a calming way. May you continue to feel that, Mary.

8:22 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Thanks everyone.

Jean: Hope so!!

HHB: Pricing's done. All well.

Pauline: How nice of you to drop by and leave these words. Welcome.

Leslee: Glad you enjoyed it. It was a good afternoon.

Brenda: You obviously know exactly what I am talking about, both when it comes to selling homes and to generous friends.

LJ: .. um yes, much better. I didn't know the Stones were touring in Canada!

Becca: A breather is exactly what it was.

Rdl: Glad you liked it ....

Jess: a step at a time is what it is.

Chuck: Different clothes, different river. Similar scene though. Stay in the present is ALWAYS advice I need to hear.

Sky: He is simply a good friend for now. But he has family connections where I am going. We shall see ... And that tip about a cleaner is a good one. Thank you.

Patry: Always so nice to see you here ...

MB: ... and you too. That goes without saying :-).

1:32 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

Ah! A beautiful day and the way you write about it makes me feel that I too was there. Thank you for taking me along.
Much luck in your real estate venture. Isn't strange how a friend always happens along at times we need one.
Namaste

1:13 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Dave, it's a pleasure...

9:27 pm  

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