Sunday, April 02, 2006


pink blossom

Julian awoke refreshed from a day off painting and, as I tried to urge him to postpone the third coffee, swap his bathrobe for walking boots, and come with me into the spring morning, he did what he does best – he made me hoot at my ridiculous compulsion to dam the flow and fence him in to a schedule the minute he rises.

“Little fences everywhere, you’re putting little fences up all the time! Just like the model farm I used to play with: ‘I’ll put a little white fence here to keep the cows in and one there to keep the dogs out, I’ll surround the house with a third for extra protection…..’”

Eventually, of course, having deconstructed my fences, he did have a third coffee and we did walk out across the dandelion studded vineyards and into the spring.

Taking a new route to the west, we found ourselves padding through orchards of wild plum trees with their intense pink buds, cherries just bursting into smile and almonds in full fluffy bloom. Dew lay like fairy foil over a field of new wheat whilst the sheep and village bells rung out a day of grace and grazing. A breeze was blowing from the south causing a diagonal rain of petals to fall from two almond trees that formed a magic arch over our two-pronged path. Surely the gates of heaven looked like this, we thought, as we passed underneath.

Bouncing back home, we made toast and sat to eat it in the vineyard. Having finished his, Julian reached for mine and took a huge bite.

“That’s mine!” I said, pulling my toast behind my coffee bowl.

Julian went up to his studio to paint and to be in a fenceless place. I followed him twenty minutes later, having once more struggled out of my self-inflicted pen, and tried to explain this:

“It’s not about you nicking my toast. It’s about guilt and calories. You see, I am only allowed” (by my self-inflicted rule book) “ two pieces of toast, even though there is plenty more bread on the table. If you take half of one, I cannot simply go and get another because I’ve already exhausted my ration, whereas you, fenceless and free, can simply go plop another slice in the toaster.”

This sad rationale is related to:

‘If someone else bought it, it has no calories’
‘Someone else’s leftover chocolate mousse is not fattening’

I don’t actually consciously believe any of this shit but sometimes I see the messed up little machine of my unconscious at work and I wonder what it would be like to open the almond gates of heaven every time I felt insecure, instead of putting up another fence.



Anonymous Lara M said...

Life's little travails: I hate that when Julian starts sampling
from my plate or coffee( invariably
right after Ive just walked across
the kitchen to get it, and often
after asking if he'd like me to
bring him some, with negative res-
ponse). He knows it's a lifelong
issue with me--I come from a fam-
ily of 'samplers' and food sharers,
none of whom have any sympathy for
my wish to consume the specific
dish Ive actually ordered. Or prepared. I go to the restaurant
with interest and high hopes, make
the effort to order something that
appeals to me, then watch 50-80% of
it disappear from my plate. 'Oh
Lara, isnt it such fun to come to a nice place and share everyone's
food!" And then of course I get
irritated at myself for being so
selfish and not wanting to share my
dinner. I mean, in theory at least,
it seems like a great idea--every
one sharing. Grrrr...

Lara (Grenoble)

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re my comment above: I'm talking
about Jeremy, of course, not
Julian (really should take the
"preview" option before commenting)

One moocher in the house is enough!

5:27 PM  
Blogger Udge said...

You have dandelions already? I'm envious (even while knowing that they will come soon enough).

Love the photo of the two trees leaning together across the path, like a natural gateway.

I would bite the hand of someone who attempted to eat from my plate.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Heather Meadows said...

Lovely photos in this entry.

As for the portions, I totally understand your pain. You could always get another piece and cut off what you'd already eaten, but that might be too wasteful. (Do you think Julian would eat the leftovers? Or maybe you could share it with some animals...)

Or you could change your mindset from "He's taken some of my food! How mean!" to "He's reduced the amount of calories I've taken in! How nice!" (Easier said than done...)

I have a different, almost opposite problem: my husband rarely finishes what's on his plate, so I either have to save it (which usually isn't worth it) or throw it away, and often I just end up eating his leftovers, as to not be wasteful. Not a good way to lose weight :>

11:23 PM  
Blogger julian said...

'course it wasn't mentioned that I made the toast, not that that would make any difference, quite right udge me too. j

11:28 PM  
Blogger Dale said...

No, no, you've got it backwards, Ruth. At that point you can make Julian make MORE toast, and it doesn't count, because once you've planned your intake you've done your bit. If Julian messes it up and you have to have another whole slice of toast that's his fault, not yours, and any resulting calories actually accrue to him. (Isn't this basic dietary accounting? I've known this for ages.)

Are those almond trees? How lovely! I was just reading about almonds, how two nuts sit nestled in a drupe (what a wonderful word!), which invites I suppose unfortunate comparisons, but I think it would be wonderful to open one up in the fresh air. I can be stoic about the Cezanne light and the markets, but when it comes to almonds growing by the road I'm afraid my envy breaks loose!

12:38 AM  
Blogger MB said...

to open the almond gates of heaven every time I felt insecure
Oh, Ruth. Sometimes you just have a way with words that is so wonderful.

5:12 AM  
Blogger Lin said...

Beautiful and funny post! Another little meaningless rule you could adopt as it works just brilliantly for me. Nothing is fattening or bad for you if eaten out of your telephone area code. It just isn't.

7:23 AM  
Blogger ruth said...

dale and lin - brilliant ideas!!!
yes they are almond trees, the first to come out here but three weeks late. i love my new word, dale. DRUPE. very sexy.
udge I think I was wrong about the dandelions - they are smaller and more intense gold and look like miniature dlns and they are growing everywhere! wny clues?

8:29 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home