The mighty Pathfinder and I rolled down Main Street, heading home after a day of thinking and talking. Same as everyone, same as always. My freshly opened bag of Tyrrell’s Handcooked English Chips – Mature Cheddar and Chives flavor (flavour?) – rustled on the console next to me. “Crunch, crunch, crunch,” my chomping teeth said at a red light. “Crunch, crunch,” while we waited for a school bus to drop some kids.
I checked the back of the bag for interesting potato chip news at an egregiously long red light. I was eating Lady Rosetta Potatoes grown in Herefordshire. Well ok. I examined the next chip in the afternoon light. It sorted of looked like a Herefordshire potato. “Crunch.” Tasted like one, too. I got to wondering about that potato. Who planted it? Was the farmer dreaming of a better life, or was she living the rural dream? Did the tractor need a new water pump and was the mortgage due so all hopes were with this potato and it’s brethren? Could the potato feel the sun and the rain as it grew? I bet it bounced along the conveyor all full of potato joy and fulfillment as it headed into the Tyrrell’s chip factory.
That potato traveled so far for me. I marveled over the weirdness of our world that I could know where my chips were grown, in another country, across an ocean. That they shook and shivered their way to me on a big cargo airliner, in trucks, through customs, across states. I selected another chip and crunched with appreciation. Perhaps just one more…in thanks for all the folks who cooperated to bring me the chips.
The Pathfinder and I wheelied onto our street and backed up our drive. Then I saw it, the pallet of fossiliferous limestone flagstones had been delivered! I threw the Pathfinder into park and flung myself out of the car. The flagstones are deep marine blue with reddish layers of fossil crinoid stems and brachiopods and chunky masses of flattened vegetation. My heart pounded. I have an ocean from millions of years ago resting in my backyard. I sniffed the rocks. They smell like rocks, not ocean.
My potato chip wonder now seems absurd, but I leaned against the ancient ocean and ate a Herefordshire chip. I looked at my iron garden koi, who was made 6,000 miles away and who will float in the air above an ancient ocean once the patio goes in. Far in space, far in time – converging in my world.
There’s something profound here. But did the chips taste good?
Please. Did the chips taste good.
Of course. Although I do prefer their sea salt and vinegar variety.
OK here’s how I really feel – – i was fascinated by the weird juxtaposition of a transitory thing like a potato with all the ephemeral joy that it can provide, together with something that has been sleeping, changing, out of all sight and mind, probably since the Triassic. Gives one a kind of vertigo feeling if that makes sense.
That’s how I felt. Vertiginous. The chip, it’s life. The rocks and the life in them, the iron koi and the mining and creativity that made it. All of it whirled and twirled around me. Then, a little later, Hamish peed on the pallet of rocks. His total unconcern was awesome.