It’s ten thirty in the morning, and already I feel as though I’ve lived through several days. I awoke to my usual pattern, get up and put the kettle on to take a tray of tea back to bed. While the kettle’s boiling, I pull back the curtains and check the stats and read any messages. Then back to bed with the tea tray, followed by meditation, and getting myself going.
Before breakfast I looked at the e-mails, and answered a query to the printer about the cover of a new book. Packed up some other books to send to a library supplier, and calculated that I had to get some more muesli for the old chap’s breakfast, and some undercoat to start the process of painting the new table and chairs – every-one is appalled by this vandalism – but I always have white rooms, and there’s no way I’m going to live with an expanse of heavy dark wood.
It got so late that I decided to skip breakfast, and go straight into the next door big village to get all the posting parcels and shopping done first thing, and then leave the day free for checking proofs, getting on with the washing, reading and commenting on blogs, and planning some stories for a magazine deadline.
At the big village, I bought my groceries, and checked up on Prasad, the Indian genius who’s transformed the tatty old shop into a spick and span grocery. He’s leaving, and all my friends have charged me with the office of finding out where he’s going … he’s given some of us nick names, and mine is ‘Girl”. Off to the hardware store for the paint, and a discussion about cockerels, as one of the genus was stretching its lungs somewhere nearby. We discussed the cockerel in town which has taken up residence with the vet, and sits on his veranda nestled up to his cats when it’s not strutting around the court rooms next door.
On to the lovely coffee place, where I enjoyed a good flat white with chocolate sprinkled on it, and a piece of iced lemon yogurt cake with cream, and raspberry coulis (oh dear). I sat in the window by the river, and watched the village cat peering into the ornamental runnels of water stocked with goldfish which edge the market square. My amusement turned to horror as the little black rascal leaned over and fished out a struggling orange body. I FELT the crunch of the sharp teeth piercing through the scales of the wriggling, doomed goldfish, then the cat ran off with it between her jaws.
When the girl delivered my coffee I mentioned to her the cat’s shameless bite and run, and she told me her mother had eight cats and a goldfish pond. “She put one in the water, and they gave up hunting the fish then,” she laughed. She then began to list the dogs they owned, starting with a pit bull. “Oh, the darling thing”, I exclaimed, to which she replied, “Oh, I expected quite a different response from you – everyone shudders when I say pit bull”. We discussed the sad fate of pit bulls owned by people who brutalise them, and the goodness which is the birthright of all creatures until man degrades them.
Feeling refreshed, I sailed off to the village bookshop presided over by a green eyed black haired goddess. “I’ve come to make a complaint,” I smiled. She beamed back: “Go ahead – make my day”! “You’re not feeding the cat,” I accused her. “She’s just murdered a goldfish.”
The goddess laughed, “I’ve just given her breakfast,” she replied. The cat technically lives in the pub across the road, but has taken up with everyone else in the market place. Sometimes when I’m in the cinema I see her prowling across the back of the seats, and one day at the opera, the chap next door to me put his sweater under his seat. I had to warn him to leave it there for the rest of the film, because the cat was nestled on it.
The green eyed goddess said she’d been at the cinema the night before, and the cat had found her and jumped up on her lap, and spent the whole film stretched out across her legs purring. “It was just like being at home with my cat on my lap”, she laughed. Before getting back in the car, I dropped in on the florist to order a big bunch of gypsophila when it comes into season, and she had also watched the violence in the market square. “What with the cat and the grey heron, there’s going to be no goldfish left”, she exclaimed feelingly. “I saw it happen. She didn’t even eat it. She just dropped it – it’s dead”, she assured me seeing the horror on my face. I drove home rather later than I’d planned, but feeling that the waters of life had been flowing strongly.
The great philosopher Martin Buber wrote that everything in our lives has a hidden significance. “ The people we live with or meet with, the animals that help us with our farm-work, the soil we till, the materials we shape, the tools we use, they all contain a mysterious spiritual substance which depends on us for helping it towards its pure form, its perfection. If we neglect this spiritual substance sent across our path, if we think only in terms of momentary purposes, without developing a genuine relationship to the beings and things in whose life we ought to take part, as they in ours, then we shall ourselves be debarred from true fulfilled existence….the highest culture of the soul remains basically arid and barren unless, day by day, waters of life pour forth into the soul from those little encounters to which we give our due…”
Yes, it felt like that as I drove home, and now I feel too, that the waters of life flow not just through our individual lives but through our internet connections as well, and through all the little encounters we have with other souls and other lives around the world. And they certainly feel like genuine relationships in our little blogging village. This Must make a difference to the planet.
Food for Threadbare Gourmets
Though it’s supposed to be spring, it’s still cold, so I rustled up a quick soup for lunch. Broccoli soup is one of my favourite soups, and I love it hot and I love it cold. Chop an onion and a generous sized head of broccoli into small pieces, and sauté the harder green stems to start with. As they soften, add the rest of the green head, keeping some sprigs aside. Chop in a potato and then add enough chicken stock, about three to four cupfuls. If I haven’t any stock, the good old bouillon cube has to do.
Simmer till everything is soft. Put some milk in the blender, and then add the broccoli mixture, until it’s all liquidised. At this stage add the bright green broccoli sprigs and liquidise them- they give some bright greenness to the soup. Re-heat long enough to cook the added broccoli fragments. Add grated nutmeg to taste, and salt and black pepper. Serve immediately, or let it cool and put in the fridge to chill. When the soup is iced, you may need to add stronger flavourings – more nutmeg, salt and pepper… needless to say I often add a dollop of cream to either version. This amount serves two people heartily, or four daintily.
Food for Thought
To organise work in such a manner that it becomes meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-wracking for the worker would be little short of criminal; it would indicate a greater concern with goods than with people, an evil lack of compassion and a soul-destroying degree of attachment to the most primitive side of this worldly existence. Equally, to strive for leisure as an alternative to work would be considered a complete misunderstanding of one of the basic truths of human existence, namely that work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy of work and the bliss of leisure. E.F. Schumacher discussing Buddhist economics in ‘Small is Beautiful’.