A Lively Record
Lynn Batten is enchanted by an evocative tale of living alongside the building of an innovative new energy project. The Wave Hub Chronicles by Lucy Wells. Coherent Visions, 2011. ISBN: 9780956936790
This is a journal of a year spent living in the midst of the industrial process of creating the Wave Hub infrastructure, which is one of the most innovative resource-energy projects to be found anywhere in the world. It is designed to utilise the colossal amount of energy produced by the sea off the North Cornwall coast. The Wave Hub Chronicles are also an open window into the heart and mind of the author, Lucy Wells, while she was living in a chalet on the beach where all the action is taking place.
Recording her thoughts, feelings and interactions with honesty and insight, her evocative descriptions of the ever-changing natural world around her are powerful in their simplicity and redolent of a deep affinity with the ocean. One epiphanous day, whilst showering after a dip in the sea, she is astonished to realise that she has become one of those plucky women who go in the sea in all weathers, the kind of women that until now she has always recognised as belonging to an older generation. Identity, she says, is a strange thing if you don’t keep up with the changes.
Her wry humour and acute observations encompass a variety of diverse and wide-ranging topics, from the absurdities of health and safety law, incidents of ecological silliness and the perils of dog walking to pondering the economy as she questions the feasibility of constant growth and compares the current slowdown with the essential seasonal dormancy of winter. Lucy finds the meaningful, not only in the beauty of the natural world, but also in everyday encounters and in humankind’s most ordinary pursuits.
The chronicles are imbued with the daily practice of Tai Chi, performed regardless of or rather inclusive of the elements. This daily dance of the energies creates the spiritual framework of the narrative and is an integral part of Lucy’s life.
Whilst this book is a journal of the gradual progress of the extraordinary Wave Hub project – and a lively record of conversation and interaction between Lucy and the construction workers – it is also testament to the unrelenting influence of the ocean upon the works of humans. It is a warm and human story of a woman (with dogs!) living in a world she loves. Although frustrated at times by our human idiocy, she is full of compassion for our planet and its people, and in her own words she is living in “the hope that we all learn to dream and that we wake up in time”.
Nearing the end of the year, as the work on the hub draws to a close she describes a scene when the infrastructure has been completed and the new transformer buried, “the gravel raked around it as neatly as around a well-tended grave”:
“The Beach is now back to its wild self, no flags, no wind breaks, no hordes of people, just the odd one or two, heads down against the wind, moving quickly, blown along like sea foam. One big tide and it’ll be as if the work force were never here. All the tracks washed away by the waters as delicately as a tear brushed from a cheek. It has been almost a year since it began and the rain has darkened all the leaves, sand and wood staining them with autumn and the encroaching dark time.”
The Wave Hub Chronicles is available for £7 (+£1.50 p&p) from www.edgeoftime.co.uk