Keepers of the River

My husband and I took a walk down to the river in my neighbourhood yesterday morning. A chilly breeze blew off the water. It smelt of autumn. The sun hid behind the grey clouds, peeping out here and there to comfort the earth with its warmth. I stood on the river bank and let the soothing sound of the flowing water carry me to a tranquil inner sanctuary of stillness.

There are times when I’ve put my feet in river water just to see what it’s like to be a river rock, the coolness of the flowing wetness rushing over my skin. It’s so refreshing and a part of me wants to flow with it all the way to the end of its course just to feel the joy of the river’s journey. To be part of the mysteries that it carries with it.

Flowing water is liberating somehow. I’m aware that on a metaphysical level, it’s is said to break up stagnant energy. In my experience I find this very true because when l relax into the vibration of flowing water, I sense myself coming unstuck. I love knowing that this river is there. This little piece of wildness meandering amongst domesticated constructions of city life the way my wild essence meanders within. It takes me back to the that place of freedom in my childhood, when I lived in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal and my cousin and I used to go down to the river and play. Those were such blissful times of simplicity.

When we crossed the bridge to the other side of the river, we saw a pair of African black ducks – a monogamous pair bound as life companions for eternity. They are a species of river ducks that nest in the riverine forests. They are like keepers of the river who are always sailing the currents and they rarely stray away from their watery home. The black ducks prefer the fluidity of rivers and rapids more than the placidness ponds and lakes like most other ducks.

Over the past year, I’ve spotted numerous pairs of these black ducks in various rivers and Nature spots within and on the outskirts of the city. This is the first time that I’ve seen them close to my home, so it felt like an encouraging sign somehow. It’s as if they are following me. I like the idea of these ducks watching over the wild flowing river and listening to the language of the water. I imagine them as keepers of its ancient stories, recording in their hearts all the wisdom that the river has to tell.

Yesterday, I remembered that the African black ducks are cousins to the mallard who are spiritual symbols of grace, commitment and protection. They are connected to our emotional body, the watery feminine element and Goddess too. Some ancient African tribes believed that they were rainmakers, carrying the wetness of Goddess’s love and tears under their wings. That’s a beautiful thought, although I suspect this is because we are more likely to see them around the rainy seasons when the rivers are flowing.

I haven’t been going there as often as I could. I’ve been exploring different Nature spots elsewhere. But having re-connected with spirit of the river, I feel the need to make time to visit there more often. I know that the river and its keepers have wisdom and healing to offer me. And who knows, perhaps I have something to offer it too.

African Black Duck