My local waterbody, Potter’s River, may seem minuscule in the grand scheme of waterbodies. However, it’s ubiquitous presence around my homeland has allowed it to trickle into copious amounts of my childhood memories. I remember quite clearly the day we ‘named’ our home. Noting the difficulty that the postman had in finding our house in the middle of the county with no distinctive marking, my mother decided it was time to name our house after a decade of being in our home. Suggestions were thrown around, yet it seemed inevitable that it would be called ‘Potter’s Lodge’, after the river that served us so well in many ways. I remember the disbelief of one student in school when I told them the name of my house, ‘that’s so cool that your house is named after Harry Potter’. However, I was quick to explain the truth.
But why was I so fond of the river that meandered past my home on its way to the ocean?
Well firstly, the river is a source of life for my family. It fills the tank that allowed us to wash our hands, take a bath, water the flowers or simply take a drink. However, for as long as I can remember being able to drink the water that the river provided, I can remember playing in our river. We ventured through what felt like the amazon on hot summer days, feeling the water tip into our shoes and make our feet squelch as we traipsed through its mysterious bed. We even had our own ‘beach’, a stony patch along the riverbank which was greater than any sandy cove in our eyes. We built boats out of lollipop sticks and raced them along the bank, hoping that they could withstand the jagged rocks and sharp bends that they would meet along the way. On cooler days we splashed in our boots and felt the water trickle through our fingers and fill our buckets, not realising the many things that we were learning about maths, science and nature. In spring, I monitored the small tributary that trickled through our field and housed numerous families of tadpoles over the years.
However, whilst this waterway has always been something I have loved, at times it has been something that I feared. Winter or even wilder summer days with heavy rainfall often resulted in the river breaking its banks, rising into our fields and threatening our home. Pools of water surrounded the feet of the horses in our local horse livery and overnight our fields turned into lakes. Yet almost as sudden as the storms arrived, the water always retreated, taking with it the fears that its risen form had brought. All that remained was debris on the fields that the river had left, sticks or the odd shoe or bottle and the murky water that fell from our taps after unsettling the water source.
My local river played such a memorable role in my life, that I could not imagine life having not grown up next to it in a countryside paradise. For all it has given me, I now want to give back to it. As a teacher and hopefully one day a mother, I want to share the importance of our waterways and it’s habitants, and the vital role that we play in protecting them so that they continue to flow into the lives of future generations, even when we have reached the delta of our own lives.