Climbing always makes me think of a beekeeper and a song.
We met the beekeeper in Wales. Four of us – friends from university – were mountain-biking near the town of Machynlleth when we went off the trail and got lost. After going miles without seeing another human soul, we came upon a bee farm and next to it, a cottage.
The cottage was inhabited by a ginger-haired young man who ran the farm, commercially producing honey and at the same time studying bee biology and behaviour. Saha and I told him we were lost, and he explained how to find the bike trail. But before that, in a five-minute conversation, we told each other the story of our lives.
Saha and I are from similar backgrounds – we went to school and university in Calcutta, and joined law firms in London. The beekeeper grew up in Machynlleth, which has a population of just over 2,000. He went to university in Cardiff and now, in a beautiful and remote valley, he observes bees and harvests honey. And helps lost bikers find their way.
We told the beekeeper we were planning to climb Cadair Idris. It is not far from Machynlleth and quite a popular climb, so we were surprised when he said he had never climbed it himself. We asked him why, and he said, “I like being at the farm.”
And it made me think of a Kimya Dawson song, and that is why I will forever associate climbing, beekeepers, and these lines from Hadlock Padlock: I wonder if this climbing that you city people do / Ever leads you to a place with such a pretty view.