There was an air of festivity walking along the River Lea
Alice Bonifacio, environmental campaigner
- Credit: Alice Bonifacio
As we find ourselves in the middle of a third national lockdown, the outdoors has never been more welcoming, despite the biting weather.
“There’s a lot of evidence to say that if you get out into the fresh air…particularly by water, that there’s a huge benefit to people’s wellbeing”, claims Dr Philipa Moreton in an interview with the Canal and River Trust.
Following this advice, I set out for the River Lea, made a cut through Markham Park and left the main artery of the A10 behind me.
Two Egyptian geese paddled in the boggy marshland as I approached the river path.
I chastised myself for underestimating winter’s colours: patches of chrome, peach and brilliant white clouds cast against sky blue. I noticed that the water levels are high and worried for the boats, wondered whether they had enough slack in their ropes to prevent them from listing.
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The winter air distilled the comforting smell of wood-burners puffing out little wisps of smoke into the evening. A family tossed scraps of bread into the river for the birds.
Motionless, a grey heron was turned away from the ruckus, whilst swans, geese and gulls commenced battle.
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There was an air of festivity here. Perhaps it was because there is always movement. I closed my eyes and allowed sound and smell to overwhelm my senses, blotting out any self-consciousness or residual anxiety from staying indoors.
I thought of the river’s source in the Chilterns and how far it travels to bleed into the Thames. A mistle thrush sang its rich and defiant call from the treetops: a sign of early spring.