Save the Wales

“They didn’t want to jump into my basket.” Jane is speaking of carrots. As she speaks I hear, as though for the first time, her particular turn of phrase. As well as this particular turn of events. For events have turned out marvelously. That may be because nothing is happening. We are happening. Pembrokeshire is happening all around us, and we are more or less just along for the touristic ride. As for Jane’s way of referring to vegetables, ours is not to reason why. Ours is to enjoy. She always speaks this way of cooking or shopping. Those asparagus I bought, thinking they might lie next to the main item on my plate…well, never mind. They decided to jump into the quiche, Jane will later announce. And what seems annoyingly whimsical in California here seems pleasantly so. For my heart is set less on asparagus than on Jane herself. I am delighting. No object. No delighting in. Just delighting.

As for the carrots, the larger delight is the greengrocer discovered just outside the main city gate in Tenby. Where there is a gate there is also a wall, and Tenby is no exception. Driving into this Welsh seaside burg, the main road squeezes into something approximately the width of an American driveway, rubbing its pavement against a massive medieval wall. Which no one seems to notice in particular, such is life in a land where history is everywhere, utterly taken for granted. Later, after Jane and I have parked for the third successful time in the town’s three-story structure, and after we have rolled the length of its cobbled streets in search of a fish shop, another traffic squeeze is upon us. The footpath between shops and streets can barely accommodate a wheelchair, let alone pedestrians. So I have squeezed myself against a wall while Jane shops, and now emerges with her silly account of the jumping carrots.

Silly, let me be clear, is good. I need all the silly I can get. There has not been much silliness in my life, much of it devoted to the pursuit of the practical. My soul having been squeezed by forces much like Tenby’s walls into a narrow trek to survival, the assumption being that the pursuit of existence is necessarily grim. A false conclusion, and one that has much more to do with my upbringing than anything else. Never mind. Jane is here and carrots are jumping into her basket or not, strawberries finding their way into our salads, and so on. That’s good, isn’t it? Jane’s subtly ironic turn of English phrase. For what’s actually “good,” generally isn’t so much good as obvious. If this putatively good thing didn’t happen, generally, life wouldn’t happen. It’s a phrase used to refer to the fact that things are. And the possibility that they aren’t, well, that is silly. We are silly, that is the point. Good, isn’t it?

Money is good, and it is generally not silly, but on this holiday it is the only thing serious enough to force either of us to examine our email, get involved in the Internet, keeping a watchful eye on checking accounts. Not thats Wales is particularly Internet friendly. Our cottage has no connectivity at all. Satellites sail high above us without so much as a nod. Our cottage is located in a vale, the Welsh hillside throwing an electromagnetic body block at the incoming signals. Which may partly explain why we are currently delighting in each other and not in anything made of pixels. Still, there is no avoiding the occasional communiqué. We are, after all, hitting London pretty soon, and we do need to line up curries with friends and family. Which explains why I’m sitting outside a green grocer in Tenby looking at my iPhone. Only moments before I used it to arrange dinner with Jake. I wear the thing around my neck on a camera strap. Not a bad solution for your average quadriplegic, let me add. But at this very moment, damned if my iPhone has acquired a speckled green Jell-O, just a gelatinous spoonful. I am staring at this, trying to make it square with a known reality. But Jane is already at work dealing with that reality.

A bird has gotten us, Jane observes. Note the use of the word “gotten.” Again, with its broadness of application, the term becomes ironic. A bird has gotten us. The Luftwaffe has gotten us, decades previous. And in its arbitrariness…I have tuned into Jane’s verbal perspective here…we have been gotten, but our human predicament not forgotten. And the larger observation that this is only bird shit after all, well it easily sinks in. And these things usually do not sink in so easily. Generally, I have the belief that were I more vigilant, minding my quadriplegic p’s and q’s more carefully, well, these messy stupidities simply wouldn’t happen to me. No, it doesn’t make sense, particularly this avian bombardment. But in my most negative and worried frames of mind, it is all about me…and my attentiveness or inattentiveness.

But it says much about my current state that I did not go there, as it were. After all, I had just bought a copy of the Guardian, it wasn’t raining, and life was good. Life is good, that is the point. Good enough to make one consider “The Spell of the Sensuous,” Abram’s broad prescription for tuning into nature. Or letting nature tune into us. Not excluding human nature. Or the impenetrable and compelling mass of trees, whether natural forest or man-made planting one cannot quite say in Britain…but there it is, whatever it is, enclosing our rented cottage, signaling from the opposite ridge, that just how green is this valley.

Comments are closed.