Come with me for a walk, will you?
First we’ll walk up Trelawney to the highest point in town. Past Provadore where the door opens and closes with Saturday morning bustle, conversations spilling out with the smells of coffee and toast. Gardens burst out through fences along the street. Someone in one of the houses is playing the piano. Look – there is that curious tiny door. There are multitude of these scattered around Falmouth. I am convinced there must be a race of tiny people in Cornwall that come and go through them in the darkness of night. (Someday, I will spot one, I’m sure of it). The Moon Fleet.
Today we are going out into the country. To the fields and lanes lined by hedges, where the air is heavy with that musky, verdant smell of spring. We are collecting wild things in our basket, to make a spring tea. Nettles, cleavers and hawthorn leaves. Violets and Primrose flowers. Whatever we happen upon, really.
I like coming out here: somehow it makes me feel most like myself. Because sometimes I feel like I’m about ten different people (and that’s on a good day) – and I’m not quite sure what connects them all together. Do you ever feel this? It’s just, there is so much fluctuation from day to day, year to year. So much capriciousness. One day, I’m sarcastic in a sort of bitter self-deprecating humour sort of way; the next I’m so poetic I almost choke myself on flower petals. I alternate between reading Nigel Slater talk about his wooden spoons to nauseatingly gory accounts of life in the trenches to scientific studies on flavanoids. Where is the common denominator in all that?
Maybe that’s why I gravitate towards the countryside, towards plants: they are so changeable too. Never the same from one season to the next. And yet, an apple tree is an apple tree is an apple tree, whether in flower or fruit or barren leafless branches. There is some essence deep down. Some truth about it. I feel that in myself when I’m out here.
I was talking to M. about this the other day, this changeableness. I just need to figure out who I am as a writer, to find some consistency. But somehow, I’m afraid to. Because I know I’ll change the moment I tie myself down. And the only thing I do know is that I need to be honest. I need to express who I am and what I am in any given moment – and that’s always changing. M. looked at me, with that sort of slightly tilted head smile that he gets before he’s about to say something that he thinks should be so obvious to me, he’s amazed I could miss it. Maybe your constant is your changeability. Maybe that’s who you are: someone who is influenced. By the season, by place, by mood, by weather, by people. Write about that.
When we get back, I’ll make everything into a tea. Green and complex and like nothing either of us has ever tasted: lovely with a squeeze of lemon. It’s nice coming home with a basket full of wild things and a head full of pictures and smells. It’s nice to be influenced and to share that influence with you. Thank you for coming along with me.