The Wind at My Back

The Wind at My Back

In 1985 I was on an adventure! There are many stories I could tell from that summer, but the one I would like to focus on today is about hosts, lakes and cabbage.

Clover and I had traveled across the ocean for our first time. We had landed in England and after a series of mishaps (that’s another story), we eventually met up with our hosts: Bob and Frieda.

Bob and Frieda Lowe were wonderful English hosts living in Wales. They were close to retirement age, and both of their sons were serving as missionaries. We had come to this beautiful location for a few days in order to visit a UK based mission. The Lowes went out of their way to treat us like royalty. We ate trifle for the first time with this sweet couple and I remember a lovely cream tea in a small café overlooking the sea on the Gower Peninsula.

Bob and Frieda did all they could to present to us what is enchanting about the UK and especially Wales.

One Sunday afternoon, after going to church at the Salvation Army,[1] they took us to a lake for a walk. Bob and I were walking ahead of the ladies and we were having a nice conversation. As many of us know, however, international travel can wreak havoc on the body. I was jetlagged and suffered from indigestion due to the various new culinary experiences (this is not a complaint, because the food was delicious!). After a short while, I really felt that I needed to “break wind,” but there was no place to which I could retire and relieve my gaseous system. The pressure mounted and became painful. I wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t even paying attention to Bob anymore. I breathed a quick prayer, and Bob suddenly walked up ahead of me about 30 yards.

Now was my chance. Bob was a safe distance from me, and our wives were 150 yards behind me. So, in the infamous words of Geoffrey Chaucer I “let fly a fart.”[2] It was not loud, but the pain subsided quickly. I had succeeded. I could now go on my way.

But then, Bob did the unthinkable. He bolted back towards me. Like a deer in the headlights, I was paralyzed. I should have moved forward, but Bob had taken me by surprise. I stood in horror, surrounded by an audaciously acrid aura. I was guilty, and there was nothing I could pin the blame upon: no other pedestrians; no walking dog; nothing! As Bob approached me, he was talking at full speed, and I still don’t remember what he was saying. Suddenly his nostrils flared, slightly, and he paused. Bob then cast an accusing glare toward the marshy part of the lake, by which we were standing. The words he said at this moment, in his beautiful English accent, I will never forget: “that smell…it’s like rotten cabbage!”


[1] Until that day, I had thought the Salvation Army was merely a thrift store, and had not realized that it was a church with a brass band that played during worship.

[2] From “The Miller’s Tale,” in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

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2 Responses to The Wind at My Back

  1. Nonnie & Grandpa says:

    It gave me a big laugh as always thanks for laughs.

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