Tanka for a misty morning


Air crackles with blue

behind black branch tracery,

smudged soft with pearl mist.

River heaves, white gull-speckled,

carrying my gaze seaward.


It was a glorious morning, misty but warm and springlike. The river was smooth as a millpond covered in drifts of fallen trees and tangles of  dead branches and creepers lifted by the high tide from the banks, offering the seagulls a free ride part of the way back to the sea.



The Belem is back after a refit at her home port of Nantes, ready to take to the high seas again.


The bridge and The Belem

This morning there was a lot of animation down on the Garonne. Police speedboats were charging up and down; police cars were doing their best to keep up despite having to use roads and bridges. Most of Bordeaux had turned out to see the President of the Republic inaugurate the new bridge.
It being our quay, our bridge and our river, I hadn’t really given much thought to the festivities, and we trolled upriver as usual. However, the crowds making their way to join the thousands already assembled by the new bridge made Finbar nervous. He stopped, nudged my hand gently with his nose and gestured homeward with his head.
I looked at the heaving crowd, and wondered where François was. I watched the policemen showing off in their speed boats, blocked my ears against the wailing of sirens as their land-bound colleagues raced in a great circuit over the new bridge then back across the old one.
We were about to turn back when I noticed the boat gliding under the bridge. It was The Belem, a Mexican navy training ship, a beautiful three master that always turns up for Bordeaux’s nautical extravaganzas. Don’t ask me why, because I have no idea. Neither what the arrangement Bordeaux has with the Mexican navy, nor why their training ship is over a hundred years old. It’s a lovely sight whatever the reasons, and once again, I didn’t have a camera with me. The one on the picture is similar, slightly smaller, and Russian.

Finbar was not impressed, pulling in the direction of home, and I found myself looking at the scene not as a human being avid for excitement, but through the eyes of a dog who sees only dense crowds and uncharacteristic movement disturbing the river. So what? The new bridge is officially open, but it will still be there tomorrow. So, the President is in the throng, he’s not such an oil painting, is he? The river police might be thrilled to bits with their high-powered boats, but I’d rather watch the gulls fishing.
You go down that way of thinking and you find yourself listening for birdsong rather than your telephone while walking along the roadside. You look at the wildflowers growing at the edge of the pavement rather than the shop windows, and the clouds scudding overhead instead of the gorgeous shoes of the woman walking in front. You find yourself drifting away from what anchors us to society, and longing for something that can’t be bought, that doesn’t need to be photographed to exist, that might be found in the depths of a dog’s eyes, or the patch of moss growing on a stone wall.