St. David's Day, the daffodils are beginning to appear and a St. David's Day service at the church in old Llanwrtyd. It is in a beautiful sight up in the mountains and beside the Irfon. I was able to take a few photographs but no chance to explore the river
At last an opportunity to explore the Irfon River at Cefn Gorwydd but it was not quite as straightforward as I imagined. Firstly it was very muddy and I had to navigate an extremely wet and muddy field. Secondly I was confronted with a small herd of very frisky black cattle, perhaps Welsh Blacks, although I'm not sure. Thirdly I took the wrong map and so followed the wrong path! But it was, nonetheless, a lovely walk on what became a very warm day in the sun. I ended up on a cliff above the Irfon which gave a wonderful view over a big bend in the river and across to mountains and farms beyond.
Down by the river there was fast running water and shingle banks but no sign of dippers, but I wonderfully close view of a kite. The most interesting feature was a pathway of flattened vegetation where it appeared the river had overflowed and taken a shortcut. No doubt at some point this will become the river itself.
From our kitchen window we can see the round basin off the water treatment plant on the banks of the river. It is a symbol that the river is not just a natural phenomenon. It is part of the natural ecology of the area but it is also part of the human network which interpenetrates and overlays the natural world. I was reminded of this by a discussion of a recent incident of water pollution in the river, the powers that be were blaming everyone under the sun but it turned out that they themselves had caused the problem! The river has many uses and it must be carefully managed. It is a way of getting rid of waste but it is also a way of feeding and nurturing life. It is a barrier needing crossing by bridges but it is also a green corridor providing access and navigation to wildlife. I have not yet seen a boat on the river and I wonder if it is ever used in this way. There are rules and regulations to govern this, not to mention those that govern fishing on the river. It is the silver thread which runs through so many laws, customs and practices.
Life is emerging. I saw my first bumblebee on St. David's Day and the daffodils are beginning to bloom. But for me the thing that made spring feel like it had really come was the emergence of the soft parts of the pussy willow. As a three-year-old in Philadelphia decades ago they used to fill my pockets, so entranced was I at the softness of them.
Mornings are drab, gray, fogbound but by the afternoon sun has burnt through and spring dances into life. Daffodils emerging, bumblebees careering through the warm air and down by the river the birds noisy and chattering. Today two great tits sounding very agitated with loud rapid ticks and above them a nuthatch searching the lichen covered branches. Yesterday a song thrush nervously eyeing me as he gradually hopped up the tree and everywhere blackbirds singing their hearts out, perhaps enjoying life before the invaders from the south arrive. The river is very low for we have not had much rain, but even in the heat of the day the grass is still damp with the fog dew. If you wait long enough by the river a dipper is sure to fly past
I have been missing the river. My feet have been painful and I've been unable to walk down to the riverbank. I must be content with looking down at the Cammarch from our garden perched on a cliff above it. I have never seen any sign of dippers on the Cammarch and wonder why this is. Other birds are beginning to nest. A jackdaw yesterday with a twig in its beak and a blackbird surreptitiously hopping into a bush beneath my bedroom window carrying nesting material. Also I often see a buzzard gliding in beneath the cliff into the trees which tumble down from the churchyard to the river. They are very dark forbidding birds when seen in this way, very different from the majestic circling creatures that are a common sight in the sky above the river.
In the garden of the Cammarch the day is hot, for March, very hot. A blackbird sings. The low sun glistens in water and sets ablaze the young green leaves. Beyond, fat sheep waddle, waiting for birth, and the, resting by a rock a single white lamb flops beside his mother. And other sounds swell: a simple, mellow flute of a wood pigeon; the bark of a dog; the infrequent bleating of a lamb. It is all perfectly at peace, and now you might think that here there is never anything other than peace. That death is always gentle and never comes to soon. That birth is always easy and knows no night of anguish. That lovers are always happy and marriages ever after. You might think that evensong is still sung here, that the curate is preaching love and there is no television telling sordid stories from far away. You might think that everything is perfectly still. That collared doves have always sat together here on the telegraph pole. That small boys still carry messages to the big house telling of youngest sons arriving home from war, or that the maiden aunt has died leaving fortunes. But, underneath it all there is a noise, a soft chatter, a running, a sound of the earth changing. Of water carried from hills. Of rain long since fallen. Of clouds emptying. Of wind and hail and snow and heads buried against the storm. There is the sound of a different past, of a different future. There is the sound of time running, of seasons changing, of nothing the same as it was. And it is the sound of the river.
Driving beside the Wye and I was shocked by the dryness. Great swathes of rock protruding from the water. The mighty torrent emaciated