Posted on 19 Comments

The River Bank


Along the river bank under the boughs, cows graze placidly; a chiffchaff calls ...

A soft plop - a water-vole slips into the river from his home in the bank; Ratty to some. His ripples spread out around him as he makes for a favourite patch of last years flags. A couple of coot skitter noisily out into midstream; a heron, hidden by the bend, flaps up. Fresh molehills pepper the field, already shining gold with buttercup, as old Moley starts his spring cleaning. Finches sing from across the field. A lone buzzard soars above the Wildwood in the distance.


Around home now the hedges are green and gold - Hawthorn bursting into leaf even before the Blackthorn looses its winter white; and Gorse - kissing everything in sight. What a difference a sunny day or two makes!

 magpie nest the blackthorn winter passes over

On the morning of the Passover a Magpie flew up from the lawn into the top of the blackthorn hedge. I was glad when it was joined by another with a twig in its beak ... one for sorrow - two for joy.1

But some fields are still waterlogged - a puddling of pools glinting in the afternoon sun. A few Black Headed Gull huddle round their marshy edges facing into a fresh north easterly wind; the odd bird taking flight hanging in the wind before dropping back down. And isn’t that a Lapwing!


Listen - there he is again - singing now from the hawthorn at the edge of the river; ‘chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff, chiff‘, the double notes hanging in the air - the arrival of Spring ...


Artist Credit

An original watercolour by Philip L Eden member of the British Watercolour Society (1924) of, and I’m guessing here, a Hampshire river. The artist lived in Boscombe and painted many scenes in and around the south of England. The red and white cows date the picture before the introduction of black and white Friesians in the early ‘50s.


  1. This haiku previously featured in my post of one-line haiku, but is here set into its original context. First written on the 8th April.

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April 16, 2020 9:38 am

A wonderful painting, soft, peaceful and a glimpse of past times!

Reply to  Clive Bennett
April 16, 2020 10:59 am

For 25 years we lived in Hertfordshire and then 5 years in Herefordshire and so I have many special memories of the southern counties of Britain. Although we’ve been back in NI since 2006 I do still look back to those days in warmer and generally sunnier counties!

Reply to  Clive Bennett
April 16, 2020 7:23 pm

Gosh! You mentioned Harpenden in another comment; we lived in St. Albans for those 25 years! Then in Ross on Wye. There are some wonderful places in NI particularly when the sun shines like today. For the last couple of years, we’ve had holidays on Anglesey & North Wales!

Reply to  Clive Bennett
April 16, 2020 7:32 pm

We lived in St. A. but I worked in London. It was a long drive and it just got longer and longer!

April 16, 2020 11:22 am

Lovely to hear the lapwing over the field and the chiffchaff – there are chiffchaff calls around here in London’s woody places – and I like very much your haiku and what it condenses. The painting reminds me of walks up the Ver river towards St Albans. Hertfordshire looks dull from the road but to the walker it opens up beautiful secrets and open views and surprising turns.

Cynthia Reyes
April 17, 2020 12:14 am

Beautiful. You present this post in such an interesting way. Words, sounds and picture are all harmonious, Clive.

Josie Holford
April 20, 2020 10:18 am

That’s most lovely Clive. And the perfect painting to match the words.

I took a walk yesterday and watched a muskrat cross a creek. It’s trail with pairs of nesting boxes posted along the way and yesterday there was a tremendous squabble for possession going on between the tree swallows and the bluebirds.

April 28, 2020 6:57 pm

Yes, I can almost hear all the bird song and love those cows. What a pity such variety has been lost.

May 1, 2020 7:00 am

Such peaceful countryside

Amit Kumar
July 26, 2020 2:37 pm

Amazing painting Sir and also words and Thank you Sir for visiting and following to my blog. I’m glad about that. Sir,
You’re welcome in mydatawords 🌹