We’ve taken a fleeting long-weekend break in Cornwall. The effort of packing and loading the camper van almost outweighs the relaxation that we’re ultimately able to experience – almost, but not quite: by Sunday afternoon, mundane worries and stresses are forgotten and we truly tune in to our surroundings. We’ve found a spot on a Cornish peninsular where we can park the camper on the foreshore of the Fal estuary. The gentle lapping of the waves as the tide rises and falls is the antithesis of the crashing Atlantic breakers that we’re used to at home. Here the wind is a zephyr; there it is cruel.
I’ve spent the week prior to this little holiday working on the content of our online Absolute Beginners creative writing course. In it I emphasise the importance of writing everyday and of practicing the skill of observation. My words come back to me as I roam the beach picking up stones and shells and admiring their beauty. How the soft grey-green slate breaks into thin slices, is rounded by the ebb and flow of the tide and how translucent the light is as it bounces off the wet surfaces. I pocket good specimens and crab up the beach picking over shells and sea glass like a turnstone. I wonder if perhaps this slate is what gives the Fal and its creeks the emerald green colour of the water, which is so breathtaking. On our first day here we came upon a little church nestled into the crook of a creek, the high tide reflecting the tower and its palm tree bride, in its deep green glittering waters. As we rounded the corner and gazed upon this vista we knew the magic of Cornwall still resides in places such as this.
Back in the van, pockets bulging with flotsam and jetsam and the leaves of Good King Henry – sea spinach – collected from high enough up the sandy cliff that a dog couldn’t possibly have cocked his leg on it, I examine my stash. Of course, the shells and stones are all dull now that they have dried out, their shapes not nearly so reminiscent of blue whales and mountain ranges as they were in the water. But still they will grace my bathroom where I hope some of the morphic resonance of their Cornish home will transform my bath-time into a metaphysical dip in the Fal.
The Good King Henry is another matter altogether. Once the sand is washed off it looks succulent and tempting. I throw it in a pot of pasta for a minute and it wilts and coats each piece with a viridescent blanket. It tastes sublime; of the sea and the wind and holidays, and I feel very smug that I know my wild greens.
Currently listening to: Sufjan Stevens – Michigan