Sunday, 28 July 2013

17 - Saki/Stevenson/Greene

I gave myself a couple of nights off after I heard of the death of a friend, and played lots of music and went for long walks. I never imagined I could do this for 1000 nights straight, and there's no particular reason why I should. Life happens. It shouldn't be a chore, and it isn't. I'm loving this, actually.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Requiem:
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And laid me down with a will.

Home is the sailor, home from the sea and the hunter home from the hill.
This seemed appropriate after I learned of Kevin's death. He was too young to die (aren't we all), and would have loved more time, but I think he would look back and say that he lived a life worth living.

Saki. The Seventh Pullet.  Again the wonderful names Saki dreams up - Blenkinthrope and Gorworth! Blenkinthrope lives a humdrum life in which the most interesting thing is that he can grow big potatoes. When his friend encourages him to make up a story about a snake mesmerising his chooks and killing six of the seven, Blenkingthrope tries it out. He enjoys his heightened fame and follows with more outrageous stories, but his fellow travellers don't believe him. And then something really odd and interesting happens, but nobody believes that story either. A funny story, but with a lot of wisdom and truth in it.

Wesley Greene. Potato. Well, I'm not sure if this should count as an essay, but who is to say? Me! So it's an essay. It's a self-contained section of a fascinating book I'm reading called 'Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way'. It's about vegetable gardening in a living history town called Williamsburg in Virginia in the US, and they're re-enacting life in the 18th century. The potato essay is of a similar format to the others, giving a history of the vegetable and its introduction to Europe and America. In its introduction to Ireland there is a legend that ships from the Spanish Armada foundered off the coast of Ireland in 1588 with potatoes on board. The locals planted the spuds, and their love affair with potatoes began. The essay then goes into how the humble spud is grown in Williamsburg using 18th century methods. I love the history sections, and instructions like this to: 'plant seed potatoes when the early daffodils bloom'. Space them '10 to 12 inches apart, in rows 2 feet asunder.'

This is a fascinating book, and it's about the 18th century methods, which are organic because that's all they knew, and low-tech and using what's available in their environment. Is it an essay? Well, for the purposes of this exercise, it is if I say it is. It's non-fiction and it interested me more today than any of the other essays I looked at. It's a great book and when I return it to the library I might even buy a copy to keep.

None today. I spent a lot of time in the garden planting spuds, mowing lawns and weeds, preparing the asparagus patch and fencing the raised beds to keep the dog out and stop her using them as her toilet. I may write something after this.

No comments:

Post a Comment