With the shortest day long gone, nights are beginning to pull out and a little brightness has crept onto the yard. Cold winds continue to blow rather than snow or ice descend, although a few mornings have turned tarpaulins white and made steps slippery. These sharp mornings have led to the most beautiful red, pink, orange, glowing and glimmering sun rises, which stun you into believing it is the first time you have seen such beauty. Any frost or snow has lifted quickly to reveal bright blue skies and sun filled days. These are the best days to see the river. When the sky seems to fall into the water and perfect reflections create a delightful symmetry.
Life on the yard has begun to pick up a pace. The arrival of a few bright days and a spring like feel, has begun to unseasonably wake flora, fauna and a few eager boat owners, who come to check on their vessels, make lists of things that need to be done and to prepare for their long summer back on the water. The yard has been preparing for the new season too. Our pontoon bridge has been taken out, undergone repair and respray and been reinstalled. It now looks quite out of place shining bright white against the rusty sheet piles.
Another essential seasonal job is dredging the river basin. The few remaining boats in our marina have been moved, or gathered together, to allow pontoons to be broken up and taken to the other side of the river. The dredger has been serviced and pipes brought across ready to be put in place when work begins. This lengthy operation is a vital part of river maintenance and helps to secure breeding grounds for waders on the salt marsh opposite, which is a popular place for twitchers to observe the multitude of birds that frequent these feeding and nesting grounds.
A reflective moment was taken by all those who knew and loved Mel, as it has been a year since his passing. His departure from life on the yard has left a big gap in the hearts of family and friends who knew him. Mel is missed by all, but his influence is still much alive on the yard and he is often spoken about fondly and moaned about when things aren’t quite right. However, as the year has moved on, so has the need for the old fire equipment, and this month we waved farewell to Mel’s old turntable ladder. It was a poignant moment as it was towed out of the yard; Simon turned his face to the river and strode away – knowing that life on the yard must rumble on.