Monday, 27 April 2015

Of This Early Morning

By habit I am an early waker, but not always an early riser.  This is especially true after gig nights.  This wasn't a post-gig morning, but at six o'clock I tried not to open my eyes as the sun was preparing for a full attack through the cabin porthole I leave open for air.  It was a crisp one.  Checking the thermometer and shuddering a little at the indoor temperature of 9ºC I realised it must have been cold outside for Jack, who would normally have been led back to his stable for a night as cool as this one has been.  Sadly, of course, Jack was not planning on going anywhere and moving him was not a comfortable option either.  I hoped he'd got through the night.  Normally I would grab the laptop and dive back into bed to start the first of the day's battles in the war against spam e-mail, going on to respond to other messages as required and finishing with dispensing snippets of wit and wisdom across a web forum or social medium.  Under two duvets the temperature is bearable enough to stay there until the air warms up a little.  Of course, when I have reading or writing to be getting on with I can just as easily do it in bed, which is what I usually do.

Then I heard it.  That strange scraping, rasping noise I have been trying to identify.  A low, slow single scrape lasting for about a second at a time.  I rose much too quickly, went to the galley, raised the blind and slid open the window.  Of course, the sound stopped.  A solitary swan was sailing past with wings stretching like the solar panels on a satellite.  I abandoned the yawning duck theory and wondered if it could be the swan making some sort of drumming noise with his beak.  I didn't see anything moving.  I heard the noise again and it seemed to be coming from another direction.  The mystery sound remains unidentified.

Since I was up I decided I could hang out the washload I'd put in before I went to bed.  I have a line stretched the length of the mooring and I do like to take advantage of maximum airing opportunities.  I hauled myself quickly into joggers, jumper and topped off the ensemble with a fleece and hat.  I zipped the fleece to the neck because I didn't want to risk meeting anyone who might form an opinion about the boatman who keeps his pyjamas on under his clothes.  I could get dressed properly when it warms up a bit more.  "You have a very colourful washing line," Yappy-dog Woman once said to me before her eviction.  I like my tie-dyed and primary coloured clothes, but having someone observing my smalls felt creepy.

However, before hanging out the linen I wanted to have a word with Jack.  I was hoping he was still with us.  Despite the farmer's sister managing to wrap him in two horse coats it had been a cold night.  There was a light mist on the river and a light frost on the decking.  A heavier layer of ice had formed on the roof of the boat and it was not yet warm enough to begin melting.  As I climbed the steps up to the top of the bank I looked into the low sun to see if I could spot Jack where I'd seen him last night.  He wasn't there.  My heart did one of those momentary quickening things and then I saw him in silhouette.  He was standing, grazing at the far end of the field.  Hooray!  I had to go and have a word and let him know how pleased everyone would be that he had made it through the night.  As I drew closer he looked uncomfortable and seemed as though he wanted to move away, so I backed off and he relaxed.  I didn't want him to have to move about unnecessarily if it still hurt to move and certainly not on my account.  From a distance I told him that I was pleased to see him up, if not quite about, and I think he was listening.  He had stopped grazing anyway.

A light mist on the river

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