I’ve just completed a run of busy shifts and am dog tired with a heavy cold. Several months worth of Dartmoor winter fog has congealed around every cell in my head and chest. Honey and I head off for the Lyd, but it’s struggle to walk down the track towards the clam into the wintry headwind. Usually a trotter, today I’m plodding at the pace of a townie handbag dog. The scent of sheep wee worms through the snot and the bleats of lambs swirl around with the agitated air, muffled through blocked sinuses.
We reach the pool which is dung brown and strung with wads of vegetation along its edge where the rocks have sieved yesterday’s flood water. I change and paddle in before leaping forward and under, surfacing between the twin stones that guard the falls like Modigliani heads. There’s a hearty but bearable nip and I feel a mind-shift as the bubbles surge through and tug at my hair. The effect on my psyche is akin to stained false teeth plonked into Steradent, or an ancient penny crusted with grunge that emerges gleaming from a tumbler of cola.
Sun splays through the wind-whipped water and refracts from the river bottom in shades of gold and amber. I have gills.