Here’s the rainbow scum in the peaty puddle, the floating wabbling moss pressed to a trickle, to the stony sykes and the burns with the overhanging alder banks, the Marr, the Scaur, you know them all. Plunge pools between the rocks where something cold in the shape of a tiny fish slimes to the stones and you dare not touch it, innocuous though you are. The falls and the places of the saved, the plains flood, bunds and bridges now, drains and stinking outfalls, rich weed and confluences, abbey ruins, mills, houses, fishing beats those who should and those who shouldn’t, lord bless us and slow us every one.
Now here’s a river that flows both ways twice a day, here’s a river with a bore, here’s a river of great salmon and otters in the town centre, here’s river that worked, here’s a river that sent a thousand swanskin gloves in a single ship, here’s a river that’s been trained and straightened, blasted, dredged, bridged, forded, made electricity, turned the town mill. It’s the replying torrent that floods the town and carries off the eroded hills, it fills and empties with millions upon millions of tons of seawater twice a day and here’s a benign stream of clear tea stained water with islands and ducks and white flowering weed.
Here are the docks and wharves o’ergrown, the flattening merse, the ooze, the whetted wind that opens the distance to the sea. This is the sea. The Nith is a constant with darkness laying along its meandering silty bed. No day is the same yet…
Mark Zygadlo is part of the Stove’s Nithraid team, developing the boat race itself and this year has also been working to create a large installation in the centre of the River Nith. This year’s Nithraid takes place on Saturday, 13th of September. A dangerous dinghy race from Carsethorn upriver, the boats will arrive in the centre of Dumfries with the high tide at approximately 3.45pm. There is a lot going down on the Whitesands all afternoon, full details on our Nithraid page here.