On Sodom Pond

Postcards from rural Vermont


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Young and easy under the apple boughs

MAY 26 WALES 002Today Pamela Petro talked about the power of place to reveal…things we cannot tell…or see….what’s the key that unlocks the invisible? What’s out there? What’s in here? What’s real? What’s imagined?

Then off to Fern Hill, where Dylan Thomas spent boyhood summers on his Aunt Annie’s farm. It’s all there: the lane, the house, the post box.MAY 26 WALES 017MAY 26 WALES 023MAY 26 WALES 020 “Fern Hill” was then read to us in a lilting Welsh accent: “Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs….”  We heard chiffchaff warblers and saw blooming black locust trees.

The lane was inviting. I wanted to walk down it. We’d come up it in the tour bus so I knew what was there. But it still was a mystery. I am having this feeling often in Wales: of both obscurity and view, embedded and free, fire and stone.

We drove on down a lane so narrow we feared the bus mirrors would snag in the hedgerows.

“Everyone’s a Williams,” says the guide.

A colleague’s voice sounds like a sheep baaa’ing in the wind.

There are more kinds of lichen in Wales than anywhere in the world.

At Bristol Channel I dip my toes into the warm sea. Expired jellyfish dotted the sands.

After dinner a poet read to us by heart, adding songs on her ukelele.

I retire yawning. Outside I hear sheep, a moped, men on their way home from the pub howling in the streets.

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To Wales

I have arrived: amid thunder grey and sheep and green. Roads and narrow lanes wind through hedgerows and cottages. Thirteen Americans clutch Dylan Thomas readers and  candy bars and water. Worn out but not tired, we creep up the combed and pleated hillsides. How do cows graze on a hill? Where are they taking me and will I ever get out? Cloud, chimney, roof, hedge. We sigh at what we see, the frenzy of air travel fading.

To reach your destination is triumphant and humbling. There is no more wondering.

Here I am.

Let’s begin.