There is a simple and primal joy to be had walking along a river bed.
At my feet, golden light radiates upward from the sinuous water, while overhead the same light passes through the green leaves of the ancient alders.
Where these lights meet and mingle, there is a rich kaleidoscopic mixing of the riparian and the boreal.
As I move further along the river, I have to use my feet to see. The golden water is opaque and shyly hides its riverbed from my human eyes.
Yet even without the sensory data rising from my feet, the patterns of the surface water tell me much about what lies ahead.
Under those quickening shoals, the pebbles are large and uneven, but beyond, in that brazen limpid backwater, the bed will be soft and welcoming, almost silky against the skin.
Overhead, the air is rent with the piecing call of the great and rare Bonellis Eagle, it appears briefly and sheers abruptly right in search of prey.
Ahead of me, the magnificent iridescence of the Kingfisher enlivens the corner of my eye, and I enter a deep pool that allows me to swim under hanging vines that drip with succulent wild grapes. I roll onto my back and forage this sweet bounty as I drift along with the sluggish current.
Releasing the vines, I drift further and finally dissolve into the golden light of this Andalucian riverine ecology.
After a long and brave battle with depression my friend and fellow lover of swimming in wild places Michael Julian Berz took his own life. He was a gentle man and talented photographer. I hope you have now found peace away from the sometimes harsh reality of this plane. Swim free now Michael.
Photos: Rio Almoldovar in the Forest of Los Tornos. Courtesy of the author.