I met a man today on my puddled walk past new-made lakes - meadows inundated – at Hunsden Lock … litter picking. Pincering discarded detritus laid bare in winter undergrowth beside the tow path: plastic bottles, aluminium cans, glass, crisp packets, a pair of underpants … As he placed the thoughtless cast asides, in an empty yellow coal sack, I thanked him for his pains. He stopped a moment. Three yards distanced we talked awhile. Boat stuff mostly … coal and gas, water, food supplies, ropes and floods. The usual things. Exchanged some random details of our lives. He’d walked from Parndon Mill where his boat is moored. First time out post Covid - a month holed up: cabined, confined on board. The sky was heavy, grey. Yet, there was something in that chance encounter, with a real person, flesh and blood, unzoomed, that made my day as if the sun had shone. I liked his smile, and he looked kind. I did not ask his name, but wondered if we’d meet again... picking litter. Nicola Tipton
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