There are times when I am so taken by the colours and forms of fruits – simple fruits, nothing spectacular – that I am moved to photograph them. I almost added the word “vegetables.” Vegetables, unless they are leaves, are also fruits, I have to remind myself. An avocado, a basket of quinces, a squash quaintly named Sweet Dumpling, a couple of plums with their blue blush. I cannot recall what to call this gossamer overcoat that just-picked plums wear. As soon as they are washed or rubbed or even just touched, this lovely pale blue layer is gone. I only know it is a layer of airborne fungi, the same that is on grapes and that starts the process of natural fermentation. The same layer most likely is also on all other fruits, except we and our eyes are not aware of it. It only shows up strikingly on dark-skinned fruits – purple grapes and plums, blueberries. This morning I photographed the fruits I had in the kitchen in the morning light – faint and watery because it has been raining all night and the sun is rather hesitant to come out on such an unpromising landscape.
I am thankful for this everyday beauty, and I understand why still life paintings are so inspired by the ordinary and the commonplace – fruits, vegetables, cups, jugs, whatever we use and have around us all the time. They have such a quiet beauty, these ordinary day-to-day things.
What else am I grateful for on this day, the beginning of the second month of my gratitude journal? The sun has after all decided that it is worth shining upon this newly washed vegetation. In the sun’s gleam, drops of rain sparkle like gems on the yew needles. A European jay – that magnificent creature with its splendid blue underwing that is so startling – has landed on the trellis that supports the blue hydrangea. It flies off and lands on the other blue hydrangea, scanning the garden. We haven’t put out the birdfeeders yet. Perhaps it is trying to remind us that it is time to have those out.
A surprise dinner invitation from a friend who had been ill for quite some time; meeting intelligent and engaging young people; being helped by M to prepare a basketful of quinces for making into jelly; discovering a variety of grapes I’d never eaten before. These grapes smelled of guavas and tasted of guavas. They also tasted and smelled vaguely of kiwis. Absolutely astonishing. They were small, round, and the colour of clear jade. They clustered together on the stalk like the small, purple Japanese grapes that I adored as a student in Tokyo, and that have a slightly foxy flavour. They are most likely a variety of Muscat, but never having tasted Muscat grapes except in wine, I am not certain that this is what they are. It is wonderful to be able to taste such an extraordinary variety of a common fruit. They had come from a friend’s parents’ garden.
I am thankful to be writing this journal when my memory is still moderately reliable. Just now I recalled the name of the blue powdery coating on grapes and plums. It is not so bad — remembering what it is one has forgotten after a few minutes. I am no longer bothered when some word escapes my recall. After a while, minutes, hours, or even days, it comes to me.
And just now, it has. I am truly thankful. It is called “bloom.” How could I, a flower lover like me, forget such a word?