Sunday, 15 April 2012

Encounter on the Cam

Our cox shouts ‘Easy oars,’ and we glide in to the bank to hear better what our coach has to say.

I’m distracted, again. Mr Asbo looks angry this morning. Patrolling his patch of the river, his gleaming pure-white feathers reflect in the still water beneath the weeping willow. With wings slightly raised in authority, he cruises downstream towards another swan, a swan with a slender neck. With her is a signet from last year; two-thirds white now, he’s almost lost his grey fluff.

The alpha male approaches the other adult swan. I expect a fight, a showdown at least. They bow to each other. From where I sit, their curved necks describe a heart-shape. They touch bills and chatter them together, uttering tender, intimate sounds. When they part, Mr Asbo is calm, his wings furled. He moves at the tip of an arrowhead of ripples. He is serene. He won’t go for us as we row on down to Bait’s Bite Lock this morning. Not this time.

Jane Wilson-Howarth ( rowed for Corpus (Oxford) in the Dark Ages probably in the first year there was a Corpus womens boat. She has rowed with Champs town club in Cambridge for the last seven years. This snippet was read as part of a celebration of literary Cambridge at the WordFest yesterday

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