Thursday, August 21, 2008


Dark fruit

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been foraging for blackberries. No one else in this town seems to have noticed, but there are gigantic limbs of them reaching out from the roadsides all over the place. Last weekend Ryan and I picked maybe three quarts from a big patch just down the street from our house. We made a blackberry/raspberry/blueberry crumble and had it hot from the oven with vanilla ice cream, for Ryan's birthday dessert on Monday evening. It was so good neither of us were speaking much. Just eating. And yesterday, on my walk to the post office and back (another Amazon sale...), I spotted the motherlode. Location secret. We went back tonight and left only when 1) it was getting dark, 2) the mosquitoes had found us, and 3) we had filled all of our containers. Perhaps another five quarts, now bagged and in our freezer for winter. And the big patch isn't even half-ripe yet. We go back tomorrow with more bowls.

In the midst of all this sweetness free for the taking, I've been reading Joseph Conrad for the first time, courtesy of a friend who sent me a wonderful little book from halfway around the world (thank you, dear Antony). After nearly finishing both novels this volume contains, I find myself deeply grateful for the bright cheerfulness of the sunny day and the sense of bounty provided by nature. I'd always heard that Conrad's books were dark, and now I know how and why. I've been sidling up to his work for so long, books of his kept passing through my hands, and in fact I think I have a copy of Youth hanging around here waiting to be read. I even have a map of the world of Joseph Conrad, framed, hanging downstairs. It was printed by a bookshop in New York City and is undated, but looks to be from the 1940s or 50s. It is a lovely black and white print (a real print made from a plate) showing the globe and the locations of Conrad's novels and travels. Ryan found it many years ago in an antiques shop for $18. They were selling it for the good frame it was in (plain black wood, but quite large). But I digress.

Back to the sunlit day, the blackberries, the sweet dark words of Conrad. Such beautiful language - descriptions that rival H.M. Tomlinson's, about the same places even, Borneo, Ternate, etc. - but interwoven among all that beauty, painful stories describing the futility of human endeavour. Briars and thorns alongside the sweetness? I can see why Christopher Morley loved Conrad so; he strikes that note that Morley always seemed to be after in his own work. Perhaps Morley's romantic nature kept him from sounding it as deeply as Conrad did. I'm repeating myself - I said much the same thing about Morley and Tomlinson. I don't know, but I will say that Conrad is tough stuff. I wonder if I could have read it through on a cold winter day. Maybe, now that I've got something of summer put aside to temper it.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?