Beginnings and Endings

In memory of Dave, a swimmer.

There was a day like this day at the lake. It was, approximately, the start of the Autumn school term, of what we may now be pleased to call last year. It was a Monday Morning. A memory of somebody’s good time the night before floated about the area in the shape of a lonely red heart-shaped balloon, gently deflating and subdued by cold morning dew. Someone captured it and tethered it to the railings.

We swam. From the middle of the lake it was not possible to see either end in the fog; neither the beginning nor the end of the journey were visible. Only the constant lines of the sea walls remained: the high one to keep the sea out of Clevedon, the thin line of the low one keeping the lake from escaping back to the sea.

Alan was there, he, who we once knew only as crazy-tow-float-man before we got to know him.

Dave wasn’t there, but I remember him from days like this three years ago. He was one of Row’s original Winter Warriors, into whom she infused a love of winter swimming through a combination of wisdom, reassurance and comic capering. On a grey day, Monday’s Winter Warriors were distinctive in their red changing robes: almost a uniform but entirely by chance.

But Dave cannot join us for any chilly Monday Mornings now. He died, so sadly and with heartbreaking timing, on Christmas day. I heard the news as I was contemplating the beginning of this drawing, already a scene of uncertainties and memories, endings and a new dawn. I think he would have been happy to be remembered in this picture.

Stepping across the threshold of one year to the next we can never see clearly what’s ahead: the mists of time extend forwards as well as back. Good events and good people act as landmarks in the fog of the past. And if we can make out no clear landmarks ahead, at least we may hope for a constant sea-wall.

“Beginnings and Endings: in memory of Dave, a swimmer”
digital drawing by Nancy Farmer

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