OK, I’m now on antibiotics, which seem to have cleared up the cystitus, but the doctor didn’t think my surfeits of spinach and rhubarb were major culprits, neither does my herbalist friend Helga, so I am carrying on to the bitter end. I was never going to give up anyway, was I? However, Helga bids me stop eating comfrey as it contains chemicals that can damage the liver….. I’ve eaten rather a lot of it over the years and it’s recommended in several places, but looks like it might be one to be cautious about.
Anyway, I should manage without for the rest of Lent, because my friend Janet rescued me today from the tedium of four more days of potatoes, carrots and chicken (whether stir-fried, stewed, souped or raw, trust me, it gets tedious). She has a neighbour who loves fishing but doesn’t like fish and so gives away any catch – last weekend he had a successful trip and there was trout to spare! So we met up today in Glasgow Botanic Gardens and ate a picnic of delicious trout and weed/rocket salad in the Kibble Palace. We sat by a large flourishing plant of Caprobotus edulis, the Hottentot Fig, with its succulent edible leaves looking very tempting. But I was very good and the plant is intact. I do have it in the nursery anyway if I need some – but theirs was glossier and fatter! Brought home a large trout for the rest of the week and a big bag of kale, pak choi and celery from Janet’s polytunnel. I am really on the dregs of the carrots and tatties now; they are taking longer and longer to prepare enough decent bits, so fresh greens are a great help. I swapped them for some plants – Tree Spinach and Tree Cabbage.
I am now completely out of apples, and hazelnuts – no more snacks.
Now I’m getting to the end of the challenge I am thinking where I go from here. It has not been impossible to survive the fast, but where would I have been without Ian’s potatoes and apples, James’s pheasants and carrots, Andrew’s onions and Janet’s contribution today? Clearly I am far from self-sufficient on my own! though its true to say had I planned it, I would have had more of the right stores. It’s also clear that within a community a good deal of potential exists for self-sufficiency if we can learn to share or trade. More and more I am convinced by the need to develop community thinking in food provision. And it is a way of thinking that seems to be catching like wildfire.
I am struck that it isn’t the lack of food that has made this hard, but the lack of choices. I realise that in former times, this dietary monotony was the norm for common people – and how much more feast days and celebrations must have meant to people. They really knew a treat when they got one, and doubtless appreciated it. I have remembered how to appreciate treats, good food, special things, myself; and I don’t want to lose that appreciation by going back to “having anything I want any time I want” from the glittering displays in supermarkets. I know throughout the world there are many millions of people who NEVER have food choices, and I have realised a bit what it must mean to live like that, often in real hunger, not the slightly panicky peckishness I’ve had to put up with from time to time.
I know I will never take food, and the choice of food, for granted again.