By Douglas Kruger
AT least once a year, you should leave the rock. So conventional wisdom tells us. Go to France. Go to London. Go on a spelunking expedition to Belize – just get off the Island before stir-craziness sets in and you start volunteering for cold-water swims.
Last week, our family arrived back from just such a trip; to Johannesburg. We’d been to the southern hemisphere to visit family and to cuss about the failing energy grid. Oh, and to acquire that crimson tan that makes you smug among the pickled onions just emerging from British winter at your gym.
On our first day back, something caught me by surprise. I stepped outside and smelled the ocean air, then experienced a surge of unanticipated emotion. Good emotion. Throat-tightening emotion. Apparently, this place has become home. Even that rage-filled gangsta-screech of the seagull swaggering up my street hit my ear pleasantly, like Momma trilling, ‘Dinnertime’.
It got me to thinking about how blessed we are, and the small things that make our dot on the globe such a gem.
Now, chances are you have your own list. And if you’ve been here longer than me, yours may be longer. But as my family commemorates our first two years on the Island, here is my compilation.
I give you: 15 things about Jersey that make me inexplicably happy.
1) Walking by the harbour to discover that it’s high tide. The boats are proudly riding a generous swell and the hulls are so close to the walkway that you can just about touch them. For no reason that I can explain, the tableau feels like an abundance of life.
2) The sudden explosion of daffodils after the long, grey haul of winter, as vitality returns to the Island, announcing new growth with violent splashes of colour.
3) Spotting those ancient Norman lions, one atop the next, carved into unexpected places: above the Tunnel, on a rock at the park, in miniature on the lintel of a door. Thinking about how much history we have here.
4) Watching the Union Flag flapping lazily in the breeze overhead, with all it has come to represent over the centuries. (To fully appreciate this one, start off in a lawless place without such a flag)
5) Catching sight of the Number 1 bus as it heads through the Tunnel. Watching it curve around the circle in the direction of Gorey, and thinking: We must take x family member on that ride and show them the castle when they come out here to visit.
6) Staring as sea fog swirls around the wild expanse of rock and ocean off Havre de Pas, and being reminded of childhood favourite, ‘Five Visit Smugglers Top’.
7) The way a random stranger will call you ‘Love’ in a store.
8) The way a random dog will greet you like long lost family on the beach, spent 15 seconds in the role of your best friend in the universe, then carry on merrily along his way.
9) The cozy aura created by stone cottages and old pubs as they leak golden light on dark nights, like cottages in Hobbiton calling the Fellowship home. Dawning sunshine on those same stone walls the very next day.
10) The delightfully quirky nature of news stories: Local actor becomes Superman! Manta ray spotted in rock pool! New hospital to be completed in 2010!
11) Driving beneath a cathedral-vault of ghostly trees on a country lane, when mist turns the Island’s interior into a spectral wonderland.
12) The way you can moon…er…that is to say…see France from the beach at Grouville.
13) The way grown-ups on the little train wave to other grown-ups walking by, for no reason besides that they are on a train and glad about it. The way the other grown-ups wave back, sharing in their joy.
14) Finding a never-before-seen nick-nack in the cave of wonders that is the Maritime Museum, despite how many times we’ve been there before.
15) Pretty Jersey cows and their ridiculously long eyelashes.
My own list could go on and on. I haven’t even mentioned Liberation Ale, or that potato meal at the zoo, or the joy of watching first-time supertubers take water straight up the nose at the Aqua Zone. Nor have I listed the ferry rounding Elizabeth Castle, or paragliders describing lazy circles in our skies.
But what if you go on instead? What causes you to feel that unanticipated surge of joy, and think, ‘I love this place’? Compiling such a list just might be the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
Douglas Kruger is an award-winning professional speaker and author. His books are all available via Amazon and Audible. Meet him at douglaskruger.com.