Avon – in search of a new river

  Olga Tokarczuk once wrote, that everyone has his own river (in her book  „Moment niedźwiedzia” ,
namely, in the story titled „Oder”). There’s some merit to it, at least in my opinion. Perhaps you’re
not aware of it yet, but I’m certain, that upon reading Olga Tokarczuk’s narrative on her personal
relation with the Oder river, many memories will spring to your mind. To get your imagination
working, I’m putting this   link to a fragment of her short story.
River as a symbol
The author tells as stories from her life, but also refers to the river’s symbolism, accentuating its
dual nature. Rivers are life givers, the birthplaces of life. However, many times they turned into
deathbringers, their currents consuming everything they met. They can be attributed with god-like
powers, reminding of  a song   by Anita Lipnicka . It carries us, changing its flow. Rivers can also
symbolize rebirth, when after a cataclysm everything is born anew.

My rivers
Enough of mysticism, let’s talk about rivers in their physical sense. I’m sure many of us have their
special rivers. Different in each stage of our lives. They can be near or distant, but still are always
somewhere close by. Vistula is my first special river. As a child I used to go to mass at Wawel
Cathedral each Christmas. Then we went to the riverside with my parents, to feed the swans. I
prepared for my SAT on the promenades by Vistula, and it is there that I celebrated my graduation
with firends. I’ve braved miles while rollerblading or taking a walk on the banks of this river. It’s a
place, where I like to go all year ’round.
My „river heart” also belongs to Białucha, a river, that’s best to contemplate beside. I went there,
whenever I needed to deal with some issues and still often go there. My „summer love” is the river
Raba. That’s where I learned to swim and where I built magnificant dams out of sand. That’s where
I learned, what some people can do to kittens… My firend tried to save them.
All these rivers are far away from where I live now, so I decided to befriend the river Avon. It is
famous for the Clifton Suspension Bridge – a symbol of Bristol. But I wanted to see its other side –
free from tourists, crowds of people going to work and the hustle of local pubs and restaurants.
A walk by the Avon
Since it was sunny, I decided to embark on a walk to Bath, which is situated about 9 miles from
Bath. Ignoring Googlemaps and it’s recommended route, I decided to follow the riverbank. The
initial part of the route was well known to me, as I pass it often. It’s a great place to spend your free

time. There’s a nice bicycle path you can ride through without all those cars passing by. Canoeists
brave the waters – either for pure recreation or preparing for the races. They’re constantly
accompanied by the coaches yell, heard through a megaphone. There’s lots of parents with their
kids, people walking their canines and flocks of ducks waddling around.
At the city’s outskirts, the route turns into something more like a forest path. The infrastructure is
still perfect though – there are benches for those wishing to rest, and for all those in need of
civilization, there are many signs, telling people where to turn to reach a certain city district or a
village center. These aren’t the only signs by the route. Many give you curious details about the
local wildlife and plants, the region’s history, and – most importantly – the ubiquitous „You are
here” marks.
Although the destination was important – the way to get there was equally so. After a while, the
canoeists vanished. Boats started appearing. Some were like floating discos, other were more like
houses on the water, and all of them were full of smiling people, enjoying the nice weather. But my
gaze turned to the other side, where the landscape became charmingly pastoral. I met no one on my
way. Sometimes I passed a country house, surrounded by an orchard or a grove.
No, it’s not Wonderland, but a mere riverside path. Seldom you can feel, you’re still in the 21 st
Sometimes, though, it’s good to have civilization. You can sit at a cafe, have a pint, or eat
On my way again. The river, the meadows,… English countryside feels like Poland. With one big
difference – I can go anywhere. There’s no walls or fences. Except for ones made to prevent animals
from roaming freely. When you find a fence, you open the gate and continue on.
Saturday… I should be cleaning, doing laundry, yet here I am, chillin’… 
Not unlike most people I met.
Making new acquaintances gets more difficult, as we grow older. Even if you try to befriend a river,
rather then another human. I had a great time, but I feel I need more time, to develop a relation with
Just before entering Bath, my surroundings changed again. Neat grass, bigger houses, a mansion
here and there.
After several hours’ walk, I’ve finally reached Bath, but that’s another story…

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