The following poem is inspired by a crew member at Windermere Lake Cruises – a local company that runs pleasure cruises on England’s largest natural lake. I spend the day with three of their skippers, and it strikes me that although they have their job in common, and they all carry out the same daily checks and routines, each has a very different relationship with the water.
This poem is inspired by Rob Beale; one of Windermere Lake Cruises youngest skippers. A former outdoor instructor, Rob has explored the water from every angle; from years spent paddling it in a kayak to his current role of crewing pleasure steamer MV Tern. He has published two books about the steamers of the Lakes and Windermere’s shipping heritage. His relationship with Windermere is visceral and from my short time spent with him I suspect there is nothing he doesn’t notice about it.
I am Connected
A poem inspired by Windermere Lake Cruises Skipper Rob Beale
Some mornings I shatter a mirror of sky.
Others, like a tailor, I cut patterns in silk.
In daylight’s thin ribbon, I’m driving on ice.
In summer, lake’s farmer, I churn up pale milk.
I am connected, in moments and years.
From the wheel I notice the tern fledglings leap;
maple-coptering the air like flurries of confetti,
while herons feather Ramp Holme with bracken and leaf,
young otters hide and seek me from Ambleside jetty.
I am connected, I connect up the piers.
Boathouse was my classroom. Nature my teacher.
I’ve seen flood tide and drought, heavy storm, semi freeze.
Back then in a kayak, now high on a steamer
I’ve delighted in snow’s froth on flat white of trees.
I am connected, in life and career.
Winter pierces my skin like grass paper cut.
I note last rush of sunshine on Fairfield’s high back.
I savour day’s end, and that four o clock blush,
The Pikes on my right as I turn the boat back.
I am connected, forever here.
I am connected to Windermere.