I would cycle daily through Guernsey’s narrow, winding lanes bordered by grass-covered earth banks dotted with primroses, violets, pink campion, buttercups and field daffodils, which would stir in the breeze I created and lean toward me and nod as I glided past.
I would amble along rough, winding gravel paths three hundred feet above the south coast bays, my sandals swishing against nettles, dock leaves, and long grasses. Thorny tendrils would grip my wool socks and I would have to pause and with careful fingers pry them away. In late summer I would reach into the bushes and brush the leaves aside in search of bulbous, juicy blackberries, which were my favorite fruit.
Then I would scramble down steep, ragged paths to the rock-strewn beaches, mesmerized by the surging motion of the sea as, on blustery days, it crashed on the sand and outcrops of granite rocks, throwing fragmented spume high into the wind, or—on calmer days—break into shallow rollers that splashed gently onto the fine white sand. Then I would shrug off my socks and sandals, roll up my shorts and step gently out into the water until I could feel sand ridges under the soles of my feet.
I would stand silent, watching the seaweed clinging to the rocks around me sway back and forth with the movement of the sea.
Often I would spend a whole afternoon alone, intuitively aware that I would be unable to savour the experience, to reflect on it, if accompanied by boys my own age. They would be intent on clambering noisily up the cliffs in search of gulls’ eggs or crashing through the shallow waters to chase sideways-scuttling crabs.
Although not intentionally a “loner,” I treasured moments on my own with the sea and the elements that abound within it.
I lived on the Island of Guernsey for the first fifteen years of my life. My memories of those years are particularly poignant.
Editor’s note: This is Ron’s fourth contribution to our “Celebration of (Retired) Life“ series. Details of his latest book, Short Stories and Tall Tales, are posted at rrc-hg.ca/rb-short/. We welcome any uplifting, funny, inspiring, or otherwise simply interesting story, profile, or bit of whimsy. To share with our other retirees, simply email your 500- to 1,000-word piece to HG-Editor@RRC.CA.