Early winter evening. An orange sun was about to meld with the horizon. Suspended so, it reflected on the entire width of the broad estuary, its colour diluted to yellow. The fog from my breath feigned a resembling hue.
A swan burst from the reeds and cracked the chill air with the heavy draught from its massive wings. The sound decreased as it became a silhouette across the face of the orange orb. There were water sounds too, gurgling’s and lapping’s. There was the sound of air heaving into my lungs.
Cox bellowed, “Forward,” and our seats slid on their tracks to the position that mirrored his command. Bodies froze with knees against chest, our eight feathered oars maintaining equilibrium as the perfectly balanced, pencil-slim craft sat poised.
Eight backs straightened causing eight blades to dip just beneath the surface of the water. Simultaneously eight pairs of legs pressed against footplates, pushing the seats back on their rollers, this action driving the blade through the water. Our bodies moved again and again as one, the perfect unison of the rhythm adding momentum to the elemental physics already in play. The symmetry was the embodiment of a piston engine, the choreography of a ballet.
Until I ‘caught a crab’ and my oar became my vaulting pole as I took leave of my crew with an unscheduled aerial disembarkation, pursuing the swan towards the horizon but falling well short of the mark.