Updated: Mar 17
In the Rame Peninsula, we live on the edge. Or on many edges. We rest between the sea and earth, Cornwall and England, rich and poor. We entertain moments where we are more one than the other, neither, or both. The lines shift constantly, with the moon and the tourist season, the weather’s whims, and our turn, and turn around the sun.
I like to watch these movements, their overlapping inhalations and exhalations. The tide courses into Millbrook and plucks sailboats out of the puckered mud, offering them a brief whisper of escape. It rushes out and exposes the rocks of Whitsand Bay, revealing pools to inspect and soft sand to muddle with footprints. The summer’s visitors flood money into our pockets, cars across our cliff edges, hot bodies over our quiet places. It ends and we breathe a sigh of relief, put on coats and let our dogs back on the beach.
We move, too. We are born, grow, and die. We leave to look for excitement, education, adventure, money, love, or leisure. We return to find home, community, a cup of tea on a quiet bench overlooking the waves, the rustle of leaves pierced by a dubstepping skylark, a dance and a beer and a song around a fire. I leave a lot. I often return thinking of Penlee — dappled tree-strained light on a twisted path where the punch of leaf mulch wrestles with a salty scent in the air, the march towards an expanse of wild waves and tight-stacked rocks, and joining them with a shudder to chase darting, mutating shoals between dark weeds.
In nature, edges are where you find the most cultural overlap and biodiversity. Abundance is forged from the dialogue in these vibrant seams — an exchange of environment, chemical, language, pattern, knowledge — rousing them to thrive.
Without this movement, what grows? Coastal areas around the country suffer a decline in young people in part because of a lack of transport links, and Rame is no exception. Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia — a spectrum of bigotries to keep a few feeling “pure” threatens to stifle beautiful differences Cornwall could celebrate. If a place doesn’t welcome new people and ideas, or if it clings too hard to the nostalgia of a state that no longer exists, then it becomes as stagnant as a cut-off rockpool.
Yet, healthy boundaries, as any therapist will tell you, are essential. How do we protect our unforgotten corner from genuine dangers slipping through in these fragile undulations? So many houses lie empty, reserved for occasional jaunts or personal gain by those who don’t live here, so they can’t be filled with those who do, or want to. Pubs, shops and services have died off as the year-round population shrinks, making year-round jobs scarce, forcing more people away. Folks “develop” areas that were once public or affordable into expensive inaccessibility. Our views need to belong to everyone. Our wild spaces need protection from environmental ruin. We all do.
And then there are all the world’s ills. So many sadnesses and fears, all threatening to seep in. It can be overwhelming. It becomes tempting, and sometimes essential, to cling to home and hope, close it out, bury our heads, an insular peninsula. But we can’t do that for long. We are in motion, after all.
We are the current guardians of this glorious mass of intersecting edges. Of all the forces that push and pull them, we are the most immediately pressed to keep them vibrant and safe. We have votes, bodies, intent, ideas, and the power to bring change. We have kindness, and each other’s backs. We have conversation that reaches distances from next door to the global. We need to use them all, to be both the boundary and the conduit.
This morning I dawdle, refreshed beneath a bristling canopy at Mount Edgcumbe, scouring trunks and patches for mushrooms, trying as I often do to figure out my place in it all. I am preparing to leave, comforted by surety that these trees and the ancient rocks will welcome me back. For a time I’ll be caught in currents and catching winds, relishing the ride, missing this unique place in the county, country, and world. But for today, I’m here. Like many, I expect I will flow in and out of Rame, as it does with me, as its many movements do within it, until the last rise and set of my days.
This piece was published in the September 2022 edition of the Rame Peninsula Dasson