This autumn is drunk with colours and fruit. Red-blushed, in their own sweet time, apples have been falling with soft thuds onto the dewy lawn for weeks. Each morning they blink at me, and shout – help, pick me up, the slugs are coming. They’re good for something, but did you know that slugs and snails are hermaphrodite, and lay up to 500 eggs a season? Re: fruit, after last year’s poor crop, this year’s harvest is a tad overwhelming. The scale by which nature balances excesses evades rational comprehension.
Too much of a good thing brings obligations. Eaters taste best when fresh, so I’m urged to act fast. Slug-nibbled and bruised fruit lands on the compost heap. The bulk of apples, several kilos a day, I wash, dry, box and put out on the road for passers-by, mainly kids on their way home from school. This time-consuming and noble deed has left me exhausted, and with numerous bumps on my head. Here’s the apple saint, drop now. For lack of a resident family to boss into cider-making, I’m left with ‘waste not’ ringing in my ears. If you remember scarcity, you’ll co-suffer the enforced hypocrisy of a twenty-first-century system that thrives on waste.
I could blame the nagging ‘waste-not‘ guilt for frustrating the flow of my writing. I could blame three early morning trips to London on crowded trains, or alien dust settling on my skin … whatever … my body succumbed to the annual purge of flu. So a week ago I sneezed and coughed through fever and chills. Sweaty nights occasioned surreal dreams and visions, and there were days when I lost faith in my invulnerability, reminded that I need to clarify some matters in my Will. I survived – with tons of lemons. You’ve guessed by now that I’m shy of conventional medics, a story I won’t regale you with. The last official need for a doctor’s visit to my home was benign, and over three decades ago, after I’d given birth to a healthy baby in deepest rural Somerset.
So last Sunday, following a week of altered states, I ventured out to put petrol in my car. I support small enterprises for their human idiosyncrasies. The cashier gazed absent-mindedly over the forecourt and across the street towards a line of taxies, while automatically debiting my Visa and, at my want, pressing another button to produce a tax receipt. Sensing a process at work, I said, ‘You’re bored.’
His head moved independently from his neck. You may remember the craze of bubble-head mascots: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobblehead that’s exactly how his head moved while his eyes rolled in their sockets to take note of my witnessing. His mouth then rounded and huffed before emitting a speech he must have rehearsed all morning. Slow, precise thoughts poured out, including snippets of existential dialogues he had had with taxi drivers from across the road. Written down, it could have edged itself towards some literary prize. His exposition ended with : ‘Nothing to be done. I’m bored stiff.’ Reminiscent of Beckett. Promises, waiting … in tune with my dull-witted flu-states. Missing most words, I was captivated by the man’s brilliant and spooky slaying of meaning. Another customer entered the cubicle. On leaving, some wise-crack in me I’ve no control over, said, ‘You’re reading …’ thinking, you’re observing life from a distance, co-creating its absurdities and joys. It’s what writers do.
‘Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away.’ – Walter Benjamin.
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This post was meant to be short and about my son and his partner, to brag a little.
They were engaged this year and their August journey to Australia had been a reconnaissance for their wedding plans next July, organised by Natasha’s family, who live in Darwin and Perth.
I asked if I could share a few images from their trip. Yesh and Tash have featured on my blog before, indirectly. You’ll find them, for example, under ‘Inspiration’ or ‘Story of an Animation.’ They’re self-employed and work extremely hard, like many young people in super-expensive London, to make a living. They’re lucky being able to do creative and fulfilling work.
I’ve not been to Australia, and am now looking forward to this journey – you can see why.
17 responses to “… apples, flu, altered states, wedding plans …”
Oh honey, I’m glad you’re over your feverish flu, it is dreadful how poorly it can make you feel. I’ve always eaten lemons by the barrel full when flu strikes and it normally helps me through – besides, nothing better than homemade lemonade, is there? Congrats on gaining a new daughter-in law soon, I’m sure you’ll love Australia. My oldest friend goes there every couple of years and never stops talking about it. Lovely idea with the apples too. I’ve noticed that although our apples are smaller, we have a much heavier crop this year. I give a lot to the nearby stables for the horses, as we’re too far out in the sticks here to get passers-by. I love seeing the odd drunk butterfly on them too, a last feast before the cold descends.
Thanks Sophie, my head is clearing, better nights. I must lead J&T to the wonderful photos on your site from your Australian odyssey. I’ve a feeling I’ll find the quality of light exciting.
Re: apples, no more butterflies, too cool here, but horses, good thought.
Lovely opening. Glad to hear the lemons worked. “Nothing to be done; eat lemon.”
In my surreal dialogue with apples (a la Joe’s mascots) lemon was the leveller.
The flow of this blog exactly suits a feverish state. Love the slipping of the gears from apple trees to existential garagist to a deserted Australian beach.
Kind of you to say this, Jane, worried me a little, the gear-shiftings. Apples remain in my line of sight – though the Australian horizon inspires and helps my perspective.
Makes a, article so much more amusing when it dots from one interest to another. When you’re a little febrile the world seems to shoot off in lots of different directions at the same time.
As always, a state of fluctuating mind patch-worked across the page. You are very good at offering a window into your soul. You apple industry puts me to shame, I used to leave them out with a ‘please help yourself’ sign but nobody ever did. I have a crop of russets I should now go and pick in the rain. Your pictures tell a lot about Yeshen and Natasha!
Many windows, many souls, a fine art to orchestrate at times.
I can see you gazing at your Russets. A good crop in your parts probably means neighbours have plenty too – so no takers. And some solutions can’t be acted upon for lack of time or resources, let alone the nerve it takes to wade through twisted red tapes.
Children – we are shy to take credit – forever the great miracles … the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself … as Kahlil Gibran put it.
sorry to know you were sick, glad that its past now! take care my friend.
that baby croc hardly resembles its scary momma 🙂
Thank you Trisha, even survived London today.
Rea: the scary mommas – all babies are miracles, it’s only later on that interests clash and some folks become hunters and some folks become prey …
Hope you are feeling much better now. Have you thought of wearing a bicycle helmet while venturing into the orchard. We have left France now and so the last of the apples are a gift to the little guys. I have bottled some, frozen some as sauce and frozen some tossed in sugar and cinamon. We also have two trays of perfects. We only have one producing tree and it is a baker. Unfortunately all of our neighbours have more than we do and we have no passing strollers. However, we do have a wild boar and some lovely deer who enjoy the fallen fruit and of course the wasps and butterflies are happy and just a little drunk. Lovely post – I enjoyed reading it.
Thank … 🙂 I came upon an old bicycle helmet of my son’s the other day, wished I’d found it earlier.
The baker (cookers) are still ripening. Wrapped in newspaper they’ll keep all winter – delicious baked or added to dishes.
As for your surplus – you’ve got takers – a satisfying thought.
What a wonderful blogpiece! So atmospheric and evocative – yes, even boredom has its merits! And nice to meet your family.
Lovely to hear from you, Jane. Thrilled by your success with ‘Breath of Africa.’ Looked at the images of Tasmania you shared on your site, beautiful.
Ashen – would you consider featuring on my blog one day? I would be honoured! I have spots available any Tuesday from the 12th November onward….
Jane, thanks, that would be scary and wonderful – once my first epic has hatched into the light, next spring. I like the idea of author interviews and have pondered on templates, considering people’s limited on-line concentration span. Short, and something else I haven’t thought of yet. You’d certainly be a candidate 🙂