14 April 2010

Fishing for Fruit

Just when you thought you couldn't stomach another shrill, depressing, stilted and self-righteous "environmental" book, Tristram Stuart puts out Waste. This is a highly entertaining, deeply informative, and refreshingly positive look at how we live, with many recommendations that make sense. His extensive footnotes are a good part of the book, a very good part of the book, if only for the entertaining stories.

Do you also get unaccountably excited at the individuality of a forked carrot, an apple that slouches, a cucumber twinned at its side?
Any specimen the camera spots which fails to match its pre-programmed ideal of carrotness is marked down as condemned, a jet of air is fired at it with infernal precision, and the misfit is blasted down into a chasm below . . .
- Tristram Stuart, in Waste

All this reminds me of an incident so perfectly romantic that I tried to report it in a poem, but the poem is so imperfect, I left it to rot. I've pulled it out of the bin for those of you who aren't squeamish.


There had been so much rain that the sea was brown in the curve of harbour
where watchful eyes of blue boats nod.

We had been driving in the forests above; stone walls, cork trees,
acorns littering the earth like pebbles on a beach back home.

Now, down in the little village, no people visible
but the stones ringing with running.
Water clattaputting from terraces above,
rivuletting down through gardens old as folktales,
sluicing around knotted roots knocked raw
by ancient donkey hooves, and wooden sabots and bedroom slippers
of gardeners whose hard and corded limbs all curve like ancient grapevine trunks.

The curve of sea
still tossed, wetter than itself.
And on its waves there bobbed a harvest
orange yellow green bruised-ruby
swollen splashes of bright, awning-striped -
vegetables and fruits torn from the earth above.

We fished with a colander, omelette pan, long wooden spoon,
herded our school of edible buoys -
and feasted for days on citrus pumpkin moons of melons
marrows big as gumboots regal aubergines
apple windfalls tart as disapproval.

We burst the cells of sea-soaked
grapefruit against our teeth,
ending our festival in sighs.

Our next fruit-fishing harvest
will be nigh when
parrot-fish shoot sunwards
spattering cumulus,
their rainbow-ribboned bodies
arching through an oxygen-drenched sky.


Lucy said...

Oh god that is fabulous!

anna tambour said...

I'm so glad you like the experience, too. Reading this again, I remember how delicious the eggplants were, but the apples especially, were divine. Their types were very old and totally noncommercial, as they had so much taste. Spectacular! And I do remember now that the citrus was so good that I ate it peel and all. But all good citrus has delicious peel. If you hadn't read this now I would have continued to remember the theatre of the banquet more than the actual taste of the food. Of course the romance of the event was the best spice, but the buoys themselves all were truly delicious, all grown in old-fashioned gardens tended with love, and fed by rain and sun, and fertiliser without labels.