Nobody Steps Twice Into The Same River…..
This intrigued me when I heard it the other day, and it set me off thinking again. Initially I thought what a silly thing to say, but then when the little wheels started grating round and round in my head I realised that it was a perfectly logical statement that made a lot of sense.
Each year on a summer’s day my family would march off to the local railway station, sit waiting on the same wooden benches to wait for the old steam train to draw up hauling the same old coaches filled with the same excited people all off on a jaunt to the seaside. Each year we set off for a little bay called Cullercoats, situated on the scenic and beautiful Northumberland Coast.
Each year my grandparents, my Aunty, Uncle and their family would join ours for a fun-filled day, each year saw a new addition to the family wrapped up safely in the same old pushchairs.
Each year my nanna would fashion a ‘table’ out of the same sand, cover it in the same red and white checkered table-cloth to furnish us kids with a unique table from which to eat our pooled picnic.
Each year I would wait in line at the little hut at the bottom of the ramp, next to the shawled old lady who sold the same old willicks and mussels collected by her and her family from the same rocks for the usual summer customers. Reaching the head of the queue I’d pay a few pennies for hot water to fill the dark brown boody teapot to make the tea, then ever so carefully carry it back across the damp sand to be given pride of place in the centre of the plates of stottie bread sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, bread and jam.
Each year we would tuck into our feast like it was going to be our last, chatting to each other incessantly, until one of the adults told us to quieted down. The silence would last a minute or two before exploding into the same all chatter. Each year there would be another mouth to feed as our families slowly expanded, so babies bottles would have to be mixed and cooled, until eventually everyone, young and old, had their bellies filled.
Each year we children would strip down to our underwear, replacing our overly warm clothes with our swim suits. We always came warmly dressed in anticipation of the changeable north-easterly summer weather. It could be so hot one moment, then a wind or a sea fret would spring from nowhere and we’d be glad of the extra warmth of the cardigan or jumper our parents had insisted we’d worn. Often after the fret and the wind, the rain would then pour down from the heavens, then the sun would be back out drying everything up. However, nothing could ever spoil our day, so we would shelter under hastily unfurled umbrellas determined to have fun regardless. Many a game of rounders has been played by children running around with brollies or large hankies tied over their heads to keep their hair dry.
Each year after a plodge in the same cold North Sea, we’d climb the same wall to walk to the end of the same pier, scrabble about on the same rocks below before returning to the fold. Wrapped in the same big towels we used year after year, we would eat and eat, complaining about the inevitable grains of sand that snuck into every nook and cranny, between the pieces of our stottie, and lying in the bottom of our cups when we drained our tea. And once the food was all gone, the cloth would be shaken to scatter the crumbs across the sand, for the squealing, diving seagulls who has been waiting nearby. Crockery and cutlery would be packed away in the shopping bags and the adults would settle down in the same old striped canvas deck chairs, hired for the day, so they could have a grown-up natter and a game of pontoon whilst the kiddies played. Each year we followed the same timetable, the same tradition, on the same old sandy beach.
Each year our hunger sated, the thought of pirates drew us to the dark dank odorous caves, where we played out fantasy after fantasy, searching for treasure, rescuing each other from roving brigands, from sea monsters and imagined creatures of the deep. We’d scream into the darkness, hearing the noise bouncing of the cave walls till the echoes faded and died.
And each year we would take our few pennies up to the shops, buy ourselves a stick of seaside rock or a sugar dummy, then ‘lose’ our remaining few pennies in the one arm bandits before returning to the beach.
Each year buckets and shovels in hand, we would build the same huge sand castles decorated with same treasures we’d found at the water’s edge; shells and feathers, drift wood and seaweed, precious stones, pebbles and rocks, they all found a place in our glorious designs. And of course the obligatory moat; no self-respecting castle would be complete without one. How else could our beautiful princess locked up in the high tower escape when the tide came in?
Each year the friendly competition between families would spill over to include other families near by who would collaborate in our fantasy buildings. Teams formed by children and adults would compete against each other in a variety of ball games and the beach would ring with laughter and screams of delight.Each year we would approach the inevitable clearing up time with little enthusiasm as the kids scrambled around trying to find their socks and shoes, vest and knickers, buckets and spades. Each year the adults would join in the hunt for the missing articles whilst at the same time trying to round-up all the youngsters from amongst the other kids spread across the crowded beach.
And each year, at the end of a long day groups of tired, sleepy children would pile into the same Cullercoats train station, then climb onto the same old train, homeward bound. Huddled together in the old carriages, the whistle blowing and the steam leaving vaporous trails in the darkening sky, sleepy children curled up together, dreaming of the wonderful day we had all had, but nonetheless happy to be returning to our homes.
And so the pattern went year after year. Nothing changing. Except it could never be the same, for everything changes. No matter what we do or where we go, who we are with and why we are doing it, whatever the weather or the occasion we can never ever fully recreate the exactly same situation or scenario that we have previously experienced. Nothing and no one stands still in time. Each second of every minute sees the tiniest of changes that can alter the following second, then the next and the next and so on, infinitum.
So, yes can can step in the river twice , except it can never be the SAME river. As the water flows each molecule is constantly being replace, each stone, pebble, grain of sand is moved and worn ever so slightly in the current, the temperature changes constantly so it can never be the same twice.
Nobody steps into the same river twice, or in our case, onto the same sand or into the same sea twice.