Monday, October 05, 2009

texture, clock, fruit


Posted by PicasaThe texture of sun beds.
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Some years ago I inherited a handsome Charles Frodsham bracket clock. It has a superb movement and, as a clock expert explained to me, it goes back to the period in the Nineteenth Century before the English clock-making industry was undermined by less expensive and less efficient German movements with which it was difficult to compete. It keeps good time, but it is temperamental. It doesn't like being moved. I moved it once to a different room and it stopped for several weeks. It was only, when learning how expensive it would be to repair it, that I tentatively wound it again and set it going, and found that it was still working, that I realized its potential for unexpected recovery. Since then it behaved itself well for several years. Until, that is, I moved it again. Within a short while, it began, within a period of 24 hours, to go too fast or too slow without any indication as to why. Attempts to regulate it were unsuccessful. Then we went on holiday. When we returned, the clock had stopped - it requires a weekly wind. To my surprise I find that the day after winding and resetting it, it has kept perfect time, and at the end of the week has gained only half a minute. Now a week and a bit after coming home, it seems still to be behaving well. It is a mystery, because I cannot think of any factors, like a sudden change of temperature, the presence of someone with a hypnotic personality, a change of government or an earthquake, that can explain its recovery, though it is very welcome. Old clocks are in some ways like pets, which become friends and one is concerned for their well being.
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Every morning, I prepare for breakfast, two plates of fruit, which I slice and arrange in elegant patterns. I am not sure why I started to do this. ( I think it was because Heidi did not very much care for fruit that you could not peel with a deft movement and scoff, so that I had to make it as interesting as possible). I look forward to this ritual - a daily exercise in creative presentation -and to varying it according to the season.
On top of the fruit, sometimes goes a blob of Greek yogurt. Today I am able to surmount each mound of yogurt with a single, wild strawberry, which I notice has ripened in the garden. The plant, or its ancestor, has been in the garden for more than 20 years since I moved into this house, and it is always a pleasure to harvest its beautiful but minute and meagre offerings.

6 comments:

marja-leena said...

Interesting pattern in the photo, almost abstract. I love the story of your clock, the idea that it may be affected by the presence or lack of someone/something magnetic nearby, like a ghost. And the fruit plates paint a sunny picture of breakfast in your home.

Barrett Bonden said...

I feel I'm clomping all over your touching clock/man relationship with hob-nail boots, but does the clock stand on adjustable legs? Such clocks often do and the adjustment can be super precise. Tiny surface differences are quickly detected at the new location and the clock, like the displaced wild animal or bird, reacts against the change.

The fact that your clock appears to finally accept its déménagement does introduce some anthropomorphic mystery, and this is just as well. Levelling a clock requires a spirit level and involves work in two inter-related dimensions, the sort of task that can render an impatient person like me quite barmy.

Though I can't pretend to take my breakfast preparation as far as you take Heidi's, I am pleased to see that it involves fruit. It took me years - decades - to establish an acceptable range of comestibles for breakfast. Fruit proved to be the answer and apples are vital, mainly for their consistency rather than their flavour. Crunching is part of waking up, hence Grannies. It came as a great shock to read one of Lucy's posts about apples and to find she has nothing but contempt for Grannies. I have remained silent on this subject until now and am emerging apprehensively from the cupboard.

Plutarch said...

M-L The patterns of sun-beds set up and stacked for storage was interesting and I found myself drawn to them as much as I was repelled by the idea of barbecuing myself while lying on one of them.

M-L and BB: The clock has had a small spirit level on the mantle piece beside it for a number of years. It rests on four adjustable brass feet. During its recent episode of misbehaviour, I found that I could regulate it with the help of a thin piece of card under a foot, but not satisfactorily. No folds, two fold or three folds helped with fine adjustment. But something more profound was amiss. As I say, I had to go on holiday and return to find harmony restored, without as far as I know human or other intervention.

Apples. I mustn't start on apples. The problem with apples is not so much the variety as the commercial framework in which the fruit is harvested, distributed and displayed for sale. Apples should, as you say, be crisp and crunchy: juice should spurt with every bite. But in response to supermarket demands apples are now picked before they ripen properly. Often they are stored under inert gass to keep them apparently fresh for weeks, even months. The result is balsa wood.The opportunity to buy a crisp and juicy apple must now be confined to farmers' markets and the like. I have always thought that Granny Smiths were excellent apples, and have found that even Golden Delicious can live up to their name, but only when picked at the right time. Cox, that great name in apple culture, has become a joke since farmers were persuaded to pick them too early. There used to be a pyo farm in Otford, Kent, where the farmer would not allow the fruit to be picked until there had been a frost in mid-October. I remember the crunchy texture and the wonderful aroma and flavour, with nostalgia. Nowadays they are all in barns or hoppers by mid-September, and tastless and usually crunchless by the time they reach the shops.

The Crow said...

Reading the comments about apples, especially Plutarch's, I am doubly grateful I live in apple orchard country. I look forward to visiting some of the smaller farms' fruit stands in progressive weeks because they insist on harvesting the different varieties when they are ripe, not when the market demands them. This coming weekend, I'm going to the National Apple Harvest Festival in the next county west of here.

My favorite apples are the Grime's Golden and the original Winesap, very hard to find these days because they aren't popular with the big-chain grocers.

Great photo of the sun beds.

Plutarch said...

Crow: I like the sound of your apple country and of the farmers who only harvest them when they are ripe. Where we live - Kent is known as the Garden of England - there are still apple orchards where old varieties are grown and treated with the respect due to them. Last year at about this time or a bit later, or maybe it was the year before - I posted an account of a stand at the Tunbridge Wells Farmer's Market, where there was a stall with at least 30 different apple varieties. Many of them have delightful names as I am sure the apples in your part of the world do.

Lucy said...

"But it stopped, short, never to go again..."

I live in a country not known for the excellence of it's apples, but the Granny Smith thing is probably just a matter of taste. I have to admit to buying Pink Ladies and enjoying them in the season. They are precious and expensive, but they are French produced.

I remember just once reaching and attaining the topmost apple of a tree in my parents' garden, and leaning against the branch I had climbed up to get it and eating it in the cold October air. No apple will ever be its equal, though I don't know the variety.