Sunset by the Thames

Sunset by the Thames from Allysse Riordan on Vimeo.

The days are still warm under the sun but a chill is coming. If I walk in the shadows for a few minutes, goosebumps will rise on my unprotected arms. Soon, it will get dark before I finish work and the commute back home will be completed under artificial lights trying to combat the darkness. But for now, there is still daylight and some heat to be enjoyed at the end of the working day. So last Friday, as a distant church rang five o’clock, I switched off my laptop, packed a jacket and flask of tea in my bike pannier and set off along the Thames Path. I was after the sunset.

I found a quiet spot behind the fences of Kew Gardens and settled down. I set up my camera to capture a few shots, poured myself some tea and sat down on the high banks to enjoy the view. The sun was beginning its descent in the sky, transforming into an orb or fire in the hopes to send the sky ablaze. It was a meagre attempt and only the clouds deigned to take on a hint of colour.

Down on the water, ducks and gulls were oblivious to the sky. Life was carrying on as normal for them. They paddled and flew, flirted with the water and occasionally dipped in. Undisturbed by the other animals, a swan lazily travelled on the river. I followed it with my eyes and became accustomed to its gentle speed. The tension in my shoulder eased away, my jaw unclenched, and I found myself leaning back.

When next I raised my eyes, the sun was disappearing behind the trees. Its flames were so bright I couldn’t stand to watch them for longer than a second, my vision turning into a white field. But it was difficult not too look. The orange glow was so compelling, its warmth drawing me in like a moth. I forced myself not to gaze directly at it, focusing my attention to the horizon behind the trees and the clouds above. Shades of orange and yellow had invaded the world. Everything was soft and mellow.

I heard the rocking of oars on the water and peered down. A rowing boat was passing by, its occupants gently navigating the river. They too had finished their work and were now idly heading back to their rowing club to store their boat away for the night. I observed them pass and noticed a fox watching them from the other side of the river. I smiled.

When the boat had disappeared at a bend of the river, I turned my eyes to the sky once more. The sun was falling. It was no longer blazing and only the bottom of the clouds still acknowledged its presence with a faded shade of pink. A minute went by, and then another, and without me quite realising it, the sun was gone. The horizon was a dull ochre. I wasn’t sure if it was trying to remember the colours of the sun or if it was tinged with the first signs or light pollution. I looked up to the clouds. They were grey once more and above them, the blue of the sky was becoming dull, as if someone had blown a thick layer of smoke towards it. On the grass, the hair of my arms raised themselves, vainly trying to capture my escaping body warmth. I slid my jacket on and spared a glance to the water below me for a last time. The reflection of the trees were dark now. I tidied my camera away, drank the last of my tea, and cycled away. The sun had set.

This post was submitted to In Which I, September microadventure challenge.

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