Sunday, May 15, 2011

Walk to the beach in Holyhead

With time to kill before my ferry, and a decision not to just go into the first Pub I came across, I walked to the edge of town.  I could hear a rugby match off in the distance, almost as a mirage on the edge of town.  I crested a hill past some working class houses, still searching for a pickup truck in every driveway; I moved down the hill toward some horses and could finally see the match across a field of sheep.  A horse walked up to a short old rock wall along its field, a white mare with its tail and mane touching the ground.  She was calm.  I cracked a beer.  I continued into the country side away from the town, giving up on the rugby match and thoughts of crossing the field of sheep.  Laughter came from above the road along a trail though an old field, a public wild land, likely donated by a retired farmer.  I meandered through the underbrush as I had on many coastal trails in California.  The laughter was from picnicking high school kids, who instruct me that I can reach a beach along another road across the field.  I summit the hill and can see Holyhead Mountain in the sunset.  I think of the dead battery in my camera, and decide some pictures are better not taken, better remembered.  The road is long and has the occasional driver pass-by.  It’s flanked by stone walls, some with tall maintained hedges growing above them.  The fields are littered with sheep, cattle or horses.  The homes all appear to be Bed and Breakfast potentials.  Some are already.  Country living dying as they do.  The ocean comes into view and an intersection with a coastal road.  I reach the old stone wall built above the cove supporting the road.  After observing the close resemblance to so many coves in Northern California, I walk down a ramp to the sandy beach and come across the following written on the wall:

Softly the swish
Between the earth and the sky
Fulfilling my wish,
Of a homestead close by
Where I in this place
Know the warm sense of grace
Its sounds and its air
Speak a mirth so aware
That the earth in its song
Filled my heart for so long.
Broad reach of the seas
Soft cloud racing by
Such winds as these
Cause my spirit to fly
To where gulls take wing
With long plaintive cry
To haunt my quiet thought
With life's longing
A sign.

Poem written by:
John Arnold Fenton.  1937 - 2007

I wept.  Uncontrollably, I wept.  My emotions and solitude of traveling within the context of this beautiful setting that reminded me greatly of Mendocino, those visions and the words of this recently parted poet brought me to tears.  I copied them down, stripped off my clothes and ran into the sea.  I ran quickly to keep my heart rate up and blood pumping.  Feeling the cold water around my ankles, up my legs, around my crotch, I dive under the frigid waters of the Atlantic for the first time.  As I walked out of the ocean and saw my footprints on the hard coarse sand of the freshly low tide, I was warm.  For much of my travels here I have had a chill, and for a man who runs hot, it’s been odd.  Now walking back in the twilight from the beach, I was again warm, a deep warmth radiating out of me.  Not in some hippie shit way, but my body was just warm.  I reached a Pub and drank late into the night, learning the Welsh language from locals.  Celebrating their being not-English, they’re a distinctive, proud people.  All of them spoke this strange Indo-European language with zest.  Being taught it in school and appearing on all signs first, English second.  Drinking ale, odd rums, and Vodka Jellies, locked in after hours, smoking and drinking, before returning to the port and boarding my ferry.

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