On the Itchen

The River Itchen ran under the bridge and disappeared on one side through a pair of culverts under a building built over the river. On the other, it burbled past the back gardens of pink brick houses that rose beyond its green banks, gardens full of shades of August yellow, and wound on around the Cathedral Close. Swans floated nearby, their numbers doubled in rippling reflection. Sophie wondered if swans were resident on all English rivers, paid perhaps by the Tourist Authority. Her mother was entranced as well, and no longer rushed ahead, drifting instead into the river itself and reaching out as if to stroke the long necks that bent so gracefully to the water.