Gerard Manley Hopkins, unable to adequately describe blades of sunlight falling at angles through trees in a forest, made up a new word for the job: shivelight.
Hopkins’ adjective seems appropriate here as I struggle to comprehend, let alone describe, the sight of light patterns on the sandy bed of the estuary at Long Nanny. And, as well as Hopkins’ made-up word, I am reminded of the song ‘Find the river’ by REM. The US band’s frontman and lyricist Michael Stipe is one of my favourite writers and with my hands in the cold water, photographing the stipples of light, I realise I have done the same – I have found my river. Or in this case that should be rivers, as two run into the North Sea here at the Beadnell estuary – Brunton Burn and the more diminuitive Long Nanny.
“The ocean is the river’s goal, the need to leave, the water knows / We’re closer now than light years to go.”
The place where cold fresh water meets sea water is always one of visceral activity and transition. And while the shallows here remain relatively benign, standing in them you can feel the drag of the current as it whips everything with it on its way to the tideline and then out to the open water. I want to write a poem about it but like Hopkins, at the moment, I don’t have the right words. Instead here is a visual entry from my journal for the day.