A bath full of skin-staining blueberries. Dipping a toe - a test - to then slip full body into sticky, lumpy evening. A sigh, a smile, a knee raised through top layer, berry beads trickle and tumble slowly down thigh to regain themselves, sticking to a brother. Too thick to drown in, too full to love in, a bath of berries is ideal for laying in, shifting ones weight on top of a squishy, soft base. More comfortable than a lovers hold, more unique and memorable. A blue body tattoo. Skin tasting sweet and addictive.
In my mind, I can recall none other of Gods creations, except perhaps an armadillo, which one can peel, remove of skin, and enjoy the food contained within. Sometimes I marvel to myself, in fact, how humanity came to discover the sweet centre of the banana beneath the tough, yellow skin and I imagine the first man who may have revealed this. Perhaps it was a Neanderthal, protruding brow and hirsute. He may have sunk his teeth, then small, thick and ideal for tearing at meat, into the fruit. Perhaps he first chewed into an orange, not a banana, and was frustrated by the bitterness, throwing it aside, the sticky juice irritating his fingers.
I keep this image in mind as I now peel a banana, a fruit not native to my own country, but imported fresh and clean, available in a local market. When I was young I needed a knife to slice the stem but now I do it by hand. The snap is satisfying, to break and tear, revealing white glory that I picture first in my mind, from behind closed eyes. Soft lines curve on the velvety surface from the wet tip to the black seed. The skin separates cleanly in three equal sections. The fruit looks succulent, inviting, and if I were less inclined to eat it, I would stare at it for hours.
But with eyes open, a disturbing visage replaces my own idealisms. Black spots the white flesh, the sign of rot, sticky and bitter. The split in the skin, instead of smooth, is ragged, lined with thin, white organic strings as if the banana was unravelling. I am turned off eating by this frail sight. However, it is natural to decay and decompose, one should not forget, but to be confronted so directly by it can be shocking when we are naturally conditioned to ignore it. Preservatives are present in everyday goods such as milk and bread. Best-by-dates inform us when to stop imbibing the good and to throw it away, avoiding unsightly mould or curdling. Tin cans or airtight, plastic bags keep food forever. Even our own bodies are preserved, embalmed, so our family will retain a healthy final image of us before we are caste away. But this banana, which was going to become part of me, ignores our conventions totally.
Mother nature designed life to give life. The fruit and leaves from the tree will fall and rot unattended to dissipate into the earth, imbuing their own nutrients into the soil for the tree to soak up and eat, retaining life. The human race has removed itself from the process. We have forgotten to replace what we take, destroying whole eco-systems in the sprint to maintain our standard of living. Even the fruit we eat, as natural a food that can be produced, is laced with chemicals to enhance the colour, or to straighten for purpose of packaging or to preserve so that it may survive it’s flight around the world. So, it may be important to remember, sometimes rot is the only indication that what we have is real.
Ingredients for a Strawberry Smoothie. Serves Two:
250ml Apple Juice.
125ml Orange Juice.
Place in a blender and whiz until smooth.