Humanity is an odd thing, its everywhere and nowhere but sometimes it just leaps out at you, today was one of those days. There has been a small uplift in the local population this weekend as the summer season creeps ever closer, the tourists have been heard bemoaning the weather, absence of shops and lack of entertainment as usually happens this time of year. English seaside towns are not a destination that’s particularly popular for annual holidays, they tend to see more day trips and summer residencies so it never ceases to astound me how much time is spent moaning about somewhere that you chose to come to and keep choosing to return to.
It has been snowing on and off here over the weekend, the sea is an angry rolling brown under a long grey sky, it truly is not a summer scene and it is of no surprise that the beach is empty. This morning I spotted a lone soul heading purposefully to the beach, wrapped in wet weather gear with a large backpack he strode along as best as one can stride with crutches. As I watched the man approach the reason for the crutches became apparent, one leg of his wetsuit flapped vacantly with no limb to contain. In keeping with most seaside towns the sea is kept in check by a wall peppered with openings to allow access to the beach, at this time of year they have timbers slotted into them as a protection against high tides. I watched as the lone nimbly climbed over the timbered entrance to the beach, deftly swinging his one leg over while manoeuvring his crutches to the opposite side. I was idly wondering why he had chosen to walk on the beach, having only one leg and crutches presents a serious challenge and the wintry weather was keeping the most able bodied indoors, but perhaps it was a personal mission or a fleeting visit.
Thankfully I didn’t turn away too quickly and as I watched he removed a board from his back back a small float, like a small surfboard and proceeded to pull himself into the surf, the reason he was out today, in this weather, was the power of the tide. So there we have one of those crazy, unexpected reminders of humanity that we all need occasionally and a truly magnificent example of glass half full.
My other rambling thought for the day is ‘who did that first’ and applies to food, I am very curious as to why we eat some things, it just makes no sense why we have declared some things to be foodstuffs. The image below shows the cashew nut, the fruit that you see is the cashew apple which is both fragrant and delicious, if we assume that our ancestors were attracted by sight and by smell then there is a logic in consuming this part. The rather ugly thing at the bottom of the fruit is the nut itself but its not as simple as that because the nut is encased in a shell that contains an extreme irritant when the nuts are roasted the smoke can actually be lethal as it carries the irritant into the lungs. So back in the day our ancestors were busy consuming the fruit and discarding the nut, who was the first person to say ‘you know what? This ugly lump at the bottom that brings me out in a rash and chokes me is probably ok when its roasted ‘ and how was he received?
Think about it, this is like me proclaiming that as much as we like soda if you boil the empty can for an hour in milk it’s great! The cashew is one small example, there is so much that we eat that doesn’t naturally offer itself as something to put in your mouth. Imagine Mrs Flintstone when after a busy day cleaning the cave while Fred was out collecting nuts and seeds she was greeted by Fred dragging a dead cow home saying ‘here’s a thought, we can’t eat grass so why don’t we try eating something that lives on the stuff?’ It just makes no sense at all, there is a logic in seeds and plants because we would have seen animals eating them but when do you see a bird chewing down on a cow? Surely when the first person ate kidney beans and was poisoned by the toxins we would have stopped trying? Who thought of soaking or boiling them? How many people were poisoned before we hit on the fact that you have to boil red kidney beans for ten minutes to reduce the toxin to a tolerable level?
Man was discovering these foodstuffs in a time of plenty, the population was low and the environment hadn’t been polluted by the contestant mining of rare materials to make the Prius, in short we didn’t need to poison each other in the search of new delicacies. Was this some early courtship ritual? Did Fred when Thelma’s hand by knowing which part of a snail you could eat? Or was it a pair of drunks that first looked at the vicious claws on a crab and said ‘I bet you couldn’t eat that?’
It’s not man’s ingenuity or opposable thumb that has led him to dominate the planet, oh no it is his stupidity and the fact that he puts all new things in his mouth. So when your child is eating a Lego brick later or fighting the cat for its dinner don’t scold him, its this innate desire to find a way to eat everything that made us what we are.