Day 434: Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth is a coastal university town located in County Ceredigion (formerly Cardiganshire) at the confluence of the rivers Ystwyth and Rheidol. The name comes from the Welsh chieftain Ceredig, who drove the Irish out of much of Wales in the fifth century. Laetitia chose Aberystwyth as the day’s destination with a certain amount of trepidation, since it is a favorite place-name used by limerick writers, and writing a limerick that hadn’t already been done would be a challenge.

They began the day with a hike on the Dylan Thomas Trail. The trail runs from Llanon to New Quay in County Ceredigion. Points of interest include places where Thomas lived with his wife Caitlin and the homes of those who encouraged and published his writings. Back in town that afternoon, Laetitia took her group to the Aberystwyth Arts Center, where a special traveling exhibit was on display. The exhibit featured the work of Albrecht Dürer, the German engraver, printmaker, and painter from Nuremburg whose life spanned the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.

As her group fanned out to inspect the exhibit’s offerings, Laetitia found Dürer’s 1507 painting of Adam and Eve especially interesting. The picture wouldn’t have struck her as odd if she hadn’t visited the herbosexual bar in Cockpole Green (Day 346) and remembered the bartender’s story about classical herbosexual art. In the painting, the figures are nude with their genitalia covered with leaves but the leaves are still attached to branches from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so someone with a certain mindset might imagine that Adam and Eve are being fondled by the tree as Eve reached up to take the fruit from the serpent’s mouth. Laetitia smiled. She didn’t know whether she believed the Cockpole Green bartender’s story, and it really didn’t matter. Albrecht Dürer had given her the limerick of the day. Tomorrow, she was starting a new series of tours in the eastern United States and all of Canada. When she finished those tours she was coming back to Wales first before continuing around the world.

There’s a painting just now in Aberystwyth
Showing Eve just before she’s dismissed with
Young Adam, her man
When she ignores the ban
And takes fruit from the mouth the snake hissed with.

Day 346: Cockpole Green

As she unlocked the ornate door of the Emerald Victorian, walked inside, and started preparing the morning coffee, Laetitia thought about what a great source of fun the Bailey and Hurst books had proven to be. She started the pot brewing, and by the time the aroma began to drift into the library, she had selected today’s destination from Rude UK.

Cockpole Green is a small village in Berkshire a few miles from the Thames. The original green for which the community is named is in two civil parishes: Hurley and Wargrave. Laetitia’s group consisted mostly of Americans who wanted to shop in England. It didn’t take long for them to exhaust the shopping possibilities in Cockpole Green, so she took them to nearby Henley-on-Thames, which is larger. She gave the group a few hours to shop and a designated meeting place, and then went back to Cockpole Green to spend some time on her own.

She sat on a bench on the old village green near a building entirely covered with ivy. She took out her book and began to read, but soon discovered that there was steady traffic of people with plants into and out of the building. There was no sign designating the building’s purpose. “Perhaps it’s a plant sale,” she thought. Her curiosity aroused, Laetitia put her book away and entered the building.

Inside was a large room with a bar at one end and tables in the center. It seemed a typical bar scene, until one noticed that the center of the room was lit by the eerie glow of grow-lights, and at the tables were humans sitting across from plants. Laetitia moved to the bar, perched on a stool, ordered a Pimm’s Cup, and looked around the room. In the darker recesses of the room near the back wall, there were humans entwined with plants.

The more brightly lit walls near the front of the room were covered with an interesting array of memorabilia. There was a portrait of the Jolly Green Giant that had an autograph that read, “With love from the Valley, J. G. G.” There were “safe sex” posters giving tips on how to stop the spread of aphids. Most interesting were the posters depicting classical Roman and Greek statues of men and women with their private parts covered with leaves still attached to entwining plants.

In front of the humans at the tables were drinks recognizable to anyone who had a libation now and then, but in front of the plants were blue drinks, not quite resembling a blue Curacao or a blue Hawaii. “That’s Miracle Gro,” said the bartender, “This is a green bar—our patrons are herbosexuals. I’m not of that persuasion myself, but I’ve worked here a number of years and know a lot about the movement. It’s a practice that goes back to ancient times and has yet to come out of the closet. There used to be a considerable amount of classical statuary like those on the poster over there. From time to time groups that adhered to rival sexual persuasions desecrated their statues by removing the entwining plants. They couldn’t remove the leaves covering the private parts without disfiguring the human part of the statue, so they left them. Later, when the various puritanical movements came along, it gave them an idea for covering up the sexuality of Adam and Eve and other nude art. There a few of the original statues like you see in the poster extant, but they’re mostly in private collections.”

Just then, a woman came into the bar and chose a stool next to Laetitia. She said her name was Melba and she had a zucchini farm in the country. She had been staffing her booth earlier, but, now was ready to go home and was trying to meet a plant to take home for the evening. The multiple-verse limerick of the day, which Melba’s story inspired, was presented when Laetitia rejoined her group in late afternoon.

When Melba strode through Cockpole Green
Her mind turned to matters serene
For since her salad days
Her vision would glaze
As she thought of things green but not clean.

On her job as she met with a client
She would think of the Jolly Green Giant
And sigh with relief
As he stripped off each leaf
While she lay down before him compliant.

And on holiday near Rosslyn Glen
She dreamed about Rosslyn’s green men
Who would lovingly grapple
With her in the Chapel
So she went there again and again.

When her listlessness made friends distraught
“They’re just green with envy,” she thought
And was happy thereafter
In a life filled with laughter
On the zucchini farm that she bought.