After a gap of about 50 years, i return to the sort of diet my mother gave me as a child. i did not do this consciously. Following a morning of exclusively fresh fruit and water, i found myself craving a "plain" vegetable soup. And it was while coarsely chopping the vegetables, that i thought of my dear mother - always in a hurry to prepare meals etc, etc, for her 4 children, born in the space of 10 years. How she would worry if her period was late !! We shared this anxiety with her - at least, i know i did. My parents did want to raise a family - but there was no planning. And the doctor-cousins of my mum, considered that too many children were thrust upon her small frame, at too young an age and with unwanted regularity. Ah well, it was not so bad - tho we struggled financially during the fifties. We managed with mum's economical and thrifty BUT healthy cooking, aided by my father's "Diet Reform" ideas. Not exclusively vegetarian, but pretty damned near !! The non-vegetarian part of a wholesome soup would be the added marrow-bones we got for nothing, from the local butcher, who thought we were giving them to the family dog. We did not have a dog !!
Anyway - MILK AND HONEY. Yes, they were part of our diet, but this was the term used by the first dentist my older brother and i visited. There were no cavities and no problems. The dentist was unused to this and warmly said to my mother = "You've obviously raised them on MILK & HONEY." My mother glowed with pride. Compliments, in a foreign country, were hard-won. Tho, over the years, they did mount-up!! She was a beautiful and fun-loving woman (all her life.)
My mother would have used olive oil to sautee the vegetables for soup - (i don't cook with oil. i do not like to heat-up oils and rarely add even raw, cold-pressed oils to salads or anything.) As we got more money, by the time my younger brother was born, there were chicken carcasses to add to the vegetable soups, the high-light of which, was to pick every scrap of meat off the bones, once the soup had been devoured. We ate what we were given. We enjoyed everything we were given. And there was no choice. But it was not "take it or leave it", as we enjoyed every crumb and every morsel...and every uncooked lump in the semolina puddings !! ..And the junket, when it curdled, was still happily devoured.
My diet of the last 2 days has included lots of fruit; lots of salad; the soup!!; self-baked spelt bread; lightly-steamed vegetables; a little basil tofu; dare i say, that i bought and consumed a little unpasteurised, french goat's cheese - (no need for B12 tablets on this irreverent vegan diet of mine !!) and lots and lots of water. Ah, the stuffed vine-leaves, a few nuts, chocolate soya pudding ....is that it ? Oh, a glass of Mateuse Rose, these last 2 evenings. That sounds great - but in fact, i did not enjoy the alcohol. i drink for taste and flavour, not for the effect...and i do not enjoy that heavy feeling, especially when twinned with sitting zazen. It seems to me, lately, that alcohol itself has a heavy flavour - and i do not like it !! For i am a man brought-up on the sweetness of milk and honey, from a mother's own loving and honeyed breast.
"Little Mum" is what "We" called you and there you are 11 years old in full swimsuit w/ your friend Suzanne Kranze in just her pants at whose home you dined on rice and grated cheese & forever-and-a-day would eat only that vegetarian food AH, LA DOLCE FARNIENTE ! "Hello and goodbye."
On bus, back from DORCHESTER, home to WEYMOUTH, i took it upon (my)self to eat my punnet of BLUEBERRIES, mindfully. Decided to eat them one-at-a-time and count them as i did so.
Just as in counting breaths in zazen practice, it was so easy to lose count. Except, that instead of just counting from 1 to 10, i counted on and on. i wanted to know how many blueberries were in a punnet weighing 150gms! Hmmm, not really in the spirit of Zen - there should be no goal...no accomplishment...just sit...just breathe...this present moment, this wonderful moment....
i think i lost the count 3 times. And because i did have a goal in mind, i kept going at what i thought was the correct place. On reflection, it would have been better to have just started at "1" again...
The final tally, however inaccurate, was 127. i only ate 126! i dropped the last blueberry...was obviously NOT being mindfull!
Ah well, i will continue with this new practice of BLUEBERRY MEDITATION on my peregrinations around Dorset. But maybe sometimes, it will be RASPBERRIES !!...Not STRAWBERRIES...Too large! Only 15 or 20 to a punnet? But maybe exquisitely sweet enough, to compensate...or CONTEMPLATE, that when needing 2 hands to hang-on to a branch on a cliff-face, and there is a strawberry within reach, but a tiger down below...what should one do?
NOW LET US TRULY PRACTICE, HERE, ON THE OTHER PUNNET OF BLUEBERRIES.....one...two....three....fo....? where were we now?.....ONE...TW....