Wednesday, May 18, 2011
peeling, sawdust, elder
Paint peeling does not necessarily appeal, but think of the frame as a careful composition and it may capture your imagination.
From the train I see a field of buttercups, and I think of The Field of the Cloth of Gold, the young Henry V111 and the French king Francois 1 attempting unsuccessfully to settle their differences, with a show-off party. I remember a photograph which I took of my children when they were little more than babies sitting among buttercups. Sad to say the bright yellow in the photograph eventually faded to a drab ochre.
It is now the season of elder flowers. Their white saucer shaped inflorescence's fly over hedgerows and hover at the edge of woods and walls. In The Englishman's Flora, Geoffrey Grigson writes: "The Elder grows like a weed, it does not live to a great age, its young stems are not strong, it stinks yet produces sweet smelling flowers, and sweet, if cloying elderberries. It makes effective medicine and poor timber, it is neither bush nor tree, neither bad nor entirely good." He goes on to report that elder must not be burnt. If you put it on the fire, you will see the Devil sitting on the chimney pot, or else the Devil will come down the chimney. If you dislike most elderberry and elder-flower recipes, Grigson says, try elder-flower pancakes from Austria - circlets of blossom held by the stem, dipped in batter, fried and eaten with sugar. They are, he says, "fragrant as pods of vanilla".