Green-tinged, somewhat shrivelled. Fragile, finger-like, waxy shoots emanating. This spud has spent too long waiting to be boiled, and is making a bid for freedom.
Mum fishes it out of the fridge and sets it aside for planting. It’s the one that got away.
I dig great ridges of metallic-smelling, crumbly brown earth – pulling out couch grass and bishop-weed, shaking soil off the roots and flinging them in the cracked yellow pail. It’s a big task, and yet I’m happy. Inquisitive neighbours look down from the pavement passing above, and cars snore by. The potatoes are gently laid to rest at 18 inch intervals, and earthed up. No watering – it would simply make them rot.
As weeks pass, dark green leaves peek through, brushing the earth from their faces and smiling at the fickle sun. They stretch themselves higher. And yet, some gardening wisdom – handed down, but poorly understood – says I must once more “earth them up”. I bury them again up to their necks.
They’re like gentle sweeping watercolour brushstrokes in teddy-bear orange. Looking so soft in the landscape – but close up, a thicket of thorns. The dusty, muted orange berries cling on even into late winter, slowly decaying in place.
The crows are kings and queens here. A whole coterie of nobles flap and caw and pose gingerly on the prickly battlements. Scraps of black languidly blown across the sky, then returning purposefully to sway top-heavily on the slender branches.
If I pick them now and try for a taste, it’s like taking a mouthful of frog spawn. The frosted fruit is jelly-like at best, else, a shrivelled empty skin. I’m like a vat of grapes ready for treading – bare feet stamping the fruit, juices oozing out through the drain holes, running luxuriously into waiting vessel.
The putrid orange juice drips eagerly down my chin, and drops not quite silently: split… split… onto my lap.
Licking my fingers clean, I emerge from the bushes with a sticky orange crotch.
He just fell head first down the gap at the head of the bed.
“No! Don’t go down there! What are you doing?!”
I rescue him, grasping his feet and hauling him out of the dandruff-dusty crevasse. He looks back at me with an aggrieved expression, dignity bruised.
As the smell of bacon and coffee drifts in from neighbouring flats, Teddy and I hatch a plan for the day, involving honey and more sleep. And maybe a bit of bumbling around. It’s so exciting, that after planning we both need a little nap.
In my dream, we’re dribbling maple syrup onto a trampoline-sized stack of buttery pancakes. Crispy bacon showers from the sky, and gusts of blueberries pelt down like hail. My fork’s the size of an oar, and yet I still manage to row the fabulous melange into my morning mouth, syrup escaping and dribbling down my chin.
Teddy’s looking a little sceptical, and is busy in a corner with a large spoon and a bucketful of set honey.
Each to their own, I reckon. Bounty is here.
Waking now, I find my ten minute timer has still not expired, and I cast around for some waking reality to write. Will the beep-beep-beep, beep-beep-beep of the Android phone alert us both that real breakfast, with real-sized cutlery, is here and now?
I stall and procrastinate…
25 seconds to go…
Your taste: blaeberries
Wild and subtle sweat, tonight
I kiss from your skin