grove story....

I was 28 years old in April of 1991 when I took my first, and so far only, trip to Europe. It was a whirlwind month long tour which started in London and ended in Prague. I saw many wonderful things and had great adventures, but the place I felt I needed to see the most was Wales. I grew up knowing that I have a lot of Welsh blood, and recently found out that my earliest known ancestor was a Welshman in 1279, and that my first Welsh relatives came to America in 1620. But at the time of my trip, I simply had a sense of wanting to experience the land of my forefathers.

It was my good fortune to have a friend in London who knew someone I could stay with in Wales, so having made contact by phone, I ventured off to meet my gracious host, who lived in Glasinfryn, a small town near Bangor in Northern Wales. It was a two day bus trip, so I stayed the first night in Swansea, a southern coastal town. I longed to roam about and discover hidden treasures of local interest, but I needed to move on so as not to delay my arrival north. I saw quite a bit of the countryside on that bus ride, mostly grazing sheep, but also I glimpsed the magnificent mountain range Snowdonia in the northwest part of the country which had served as a natural fortress for the last defiant, independent people of Great Britian. ItŐs profile reminded me of the Sierra range here in California.

Weary from the ride, I finally arrived at the small house which was my destination and was warmly welcomed. I spent a couple of days walking around Bangor observing the people, and visiting the nearby castle of Caernarfon, which is an impressive testament to the royal fortitude and insurmountable might which eventually brought these proud people under the rule of the English monarchy. On my last day I was told of a walk I could take in the countryside which would lead to a circle of trees, the very ones you see in this picture. It was on this walk that I really felt what Wales means to me. I was given directions that led along a path, and then down a road which ran between fields of low rolling hills. The constant overcast keeps the grass a rich green, and trees were scattered around, usually isolated on the edge of a field. I recognized the unusual grove as my destination from quite a distance. As I approached it, I felt a sense of ancient time, and of people long ago. The trees formed a full circle with rocks between them as links of an unbroken chain. I wondered what past events these trees had seen, and felt this was somehow the center of the people who had lived here for centuries, who gathered here to recognize who they were.

As I left this place, I knew that I had found something to take with me wherever I go, something of who I am and how I got here. The circle perhaps represents the circle I had completed by visiting the place of my ancestors.

Robert Welch, March 3, 1996 Santa Cruz, CA USA