Peace and Quiet

For those who don't already know - my home is a narrow-boat and today I took her out on the canal for a bit of P&Q. The stretch of canal I love to go on has largely been neglected and is quite silted up in places, allowing a lot of water-weeds and water lilies to grow.

 Now at the height of summer, life is at its magical best with Coots and Mallards bringing up their little ones on the rich pickings available in the clear water. As the boat trundles along at half my walking speed, I watch the coots as they dive suddenly, surfacing with their white-topped beaks full of tiny fish that they push down their starving youngsters' throats before throwing themselves below the water again.

As I watch I can see thousands of fish of all sizes in the clear water; tiny fingerings flit between the water-grass and underwater fronds while schools of larger fish drift carelessly down the current. Occasionally I see a really large fish lurking and I chuckle silently at the intense expressions on the faces of fishermen lined along the shores seated on their folding chairs, armed with pricey fishing rods. They cannot see what I can see from my elevated position. Sometimes I am lucky enough to spy a heron as it stands statue-still waiting to see a likely fish to stab.

Considering that this canal is a stone's throw from one of the busiest motorways in the world and meanders through some untidy and dirty industrial estates, it seems a miracle to me that the wildlife survives. A feeling of joy and elation steals over me as I realise that Nature still stands a chance.

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