Tuesday, October 04, 2005

reflections along the canal

I'm trying to type, and eat my lunch, with Banjo on my knee which means every now and then I find my fork nudged nearer my ear than my mouth and his tail is in danger of becoming Thai green curry flavoured... as long as he doesn't try to play with my mouse though we should be ok!

I meant to write something yesterday after I'd walked home from Meeting but by the time I'd made buns to take to Young Friends and had my tea it was time to go back out, but hopefully I can remember most of what was going through my head.

I walked home the scenic route yesterday, along the Union canal and the Water of Leith starting off at the revamped Port Hamilton basin with it's trendy bars and penthouse flats, still looking somewhat out of place amid the brewery buildings and car mechanic workshops but on the whole a definite improvement.

As I walked along all kinds of memories came back to me as I realised how many ties I had built up with the canal in the twelve years I've been here, what started off this train of thought which lasted the whole 5 miles, was seeing how much of the towpath has now been broadened and resurfaced and thinking how much easier it would have been pushing Kirsten's wheelchair along here now than it was when I first came here when it was all overgrown, rutted and muddy and a case of playing chicken with anyone coming past on a bicycle. So much has been done to dredge the canal, rebuild the pilings at the sides, put in new moorings and pontoons (great for feeding the ducks from!) and now it is possible to navigate your way through to Glasgow again by boat. The section at Wester Hailes has been uncovered again having been sent through a culvert for goodness knows how many years and there is talk of a marina being built there – yep, at Wester Hailes! Must admit the idea of it being transformed into a trendy waterfront area seems a little far fetched but then I'd've said the same about the Dark Arches area of Leeds at one point and now look at it...

It has felt like the canal has been improving over the years along with my life; from stagnant water going nowhere fast, gradually getting cleaned up and cleared out, shifting years worth of rubbish and silt and now being ready for the next stage, full of life and freedom.

I couldn't believe how many people came to mind as I walked along, memories triggered by different sights; the rowers, the rugby ground (what on earth are they doing at Boroughmuir?), Polwarth church and bridge, the bench at Shandon, the poplar trees, Harrison Park, the ducks and swans, the dabchick (now I know what it is!) - these and many more sights brought to mind friends old and new, it was like walking through some kind of time warp. So much has changed along there yet obviously enough has stayed the same.

Turning off down the Water of Leith walkway (the 'leaky' aqueduct, the cantilevered pathway, the allotments, the cemetery) brought along another string of people and events to mind and the most seemingly random connections – part of me wants to write them all down but I'm not sure that I could without going back out and doing the walk again! It really did feel like I was having the last 12 years of my life flash before me.

One thing I did realise though as I reached home, no matter how much my life has improved, now matter how much better my health and fitness – I still can't do a five mile walk on a practically empty stomach without feeling lightheaded and desperate for a cuppa!

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