You have been rather exceptional.
I can’t remember an August where it hasn’t been continually grey, windy, misty, rainy and cold. Not since the 90’s anyway.
I can’t remember an August where I haven’t entered into it with unrealistic expectations of falling stars, camping adventures, long hot days on the beach and carefree adventures with friends.
This August, I dropped those expectations. I was absorbed in a flurry of enormous lifestyle changes, responsibility and a see-saw of experiences that left me exhausted, emotionally drained and apathetic of what may be in store this month.
It’s just another grey August, I thought.
There will be sea fog, and hard work and the best beaches will be cluttered with visitors.
I was right about two of those things, and there is still time for the sea fog – August isn’t over yet – but I was pleasantly surprised that the month greeted me with a caress of warm, breezy sunshine, reunions with old friends and unexpected explorations.
And yes, there were even shooting stars.
Dear August, there are still many days left in you. I am grateful for this simultaneously busy life and slow pace of the country. I am grateful for the warm relief that you bring – and with that sunshine comes hope. I am a creature so profoundly impacted by my environments – my tempers mirror the weather and sometimes I wonder if I am more saltwater than soul. Like a little plant, I need the warmth to photosynthesise, and like a little plant I need the water. I am a selfish creature – a slave to my needs. Neediness for the churning saltwater, open fresh air and warm toes. A neediness for a warm day in August and my feet on the sand.
This August, my friend Clementine came to visit us from France. We managed to assemble a couple of members of ‘the Gang’ from college for a reunion, for a bonfire campout like we used to do in the old days. George’s family joined us and we learned how to cook freshly caught mackerel on the fire. George’s Dad caught the mackerel for us and gutted the fish with a camping knife. I named them Sam and Jimony and continually apologised to them as they gawped at us with their unseeing eyes, their bellies liberated of their innards. I’m sorry Sam and Jimony – vegetarians and vegans look away. My friends and George’s Dad laughed at me for talking to them and told me that they had wives and children waiting for them at sea 🙁 I would make a rubbish survivalist – I’d cry over the corpses of any dead moose that I had managed to capture. I’d probably also give them names. The scene on ‘Into the Wild’ with the dead moose covered in flies gets me every time. Nobody likes a dead moose except maybe the wolves. If you tried hunting in Cornwall, all you’d get were sheep and rabbits and stupid pheasants. Pheasants must be the dimmest creatures alive, they practically run at your car with wild abandon, as if they are done with the world and they wish to be one with the tarmac (or should I say dirt track).
I couldn’t help but admire the fish – they were incredibly beautiful. I felt such sorrow at the loss of their lives. Being a meat consumer, I have always been distanced from the process of life > death > food, and this experience was humbling, bitter and strange for me. There was this direct relationship between these creatures and what they provided. Their flickers of life gave us nourishment and energy. We stole their life force to continue our own. It was a strange thought and not an altogether comfortable one. I sat by the fire and pondered the relationship between food that had once been living and myself, how any carnivorous or omnivorous creature takes life so regularly in order to preserve their own and there was something wild, raw and savage in those notions. There was no art or beauty in death, only need and existence. I don’t need meat to exist, yet I have been raised in a culture where farming and fishery is an enormous part of our heritage and lifestyle. I see fishing boats bob into the harbours on a daily basis, hauling crates of salted and fresh fish into the ports.
In these moments, I was faced with a deep conflict: a moral opposition against something that was an enormous part of my life and culture. This is an ongoing dispute with myself that I am yet to resolve.
George’s family are all vegetarians except for him and his Dad and so they always endeavour to fish in the kindest way they can allow. I’m not a perfect human and my morals are far from selfless – I can cruelly admit that Sam and Jimony tasted absolutely sodding delicious after Josiah had the inspired idea of cooking them in a used can.
This is Josiah, one of my oldest friends. He has a hopeless tea addiction, was a vegetarian for years until the ‘cheeky steak pasty police’ caught up with him and took away his title for violation due to over consumption. He’s a raging Green, political folk musician and pro faffer-abouter. He’ll do a really great impression of Bob Dylan for you.
Below is Clementine, another of my oldest friends. She’s currently studying a PHD in Grenoble and has the most adorable accent. Even when she’s angry, she’s cute. She calls pancakes ‘poncakes‘. Then there’s Alban who is too French for even my abilities so we mostly communicate in silly faces and weird humour. Jegan is a graduated philosopher and is the one trying to grow an animal on his face. The smaller of the humans is Louis, George’s brother. His life ambition is to be a celtic wizard.
This post is not informative, neither is it filled with particularly interesting photographs that may educate or inspire you. It simply is what it is: postcards from a pleasant month that is in danger of hurrying by in a flurry.
I am deeply sorry if you came here looking for something – something inspiring, specific and factual. I’m afraid that I can’t offer that today. My head is tired, every molecule in my body screams out for rest, but you know what? It’s not unpleasant. It’s fulfilling.
I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you here, for there is no great adventure. Only the quiet and personal every day sort, the sort spent with great friends. Watch out for shooting stars.