Thursday, August 05, 2010

8 Eating the sun

Saturday July 31, 2010:

The air is blue with “language” as I pick up the rocking mixing bowl as it comes to rest upside down at the back of the cooker top! The oil and water oozes determinedly from behind the cooker where it has been flung. Momentarily, I dab at it with inadequate cloths. Defeated, I sit on the kitchen floor and cry.

I’m baking. It’s a baking fire and I’m making bread for a Lamas ritual. Except that, I now have to modify the recipe as that was the last of the olive oil. Bugger!


I plunge the heels of my hands into the soft and compliant dough. I ram it onto the wooden board viciously, muttering darkly. Then I pause, and remember that putting dark thoughts into the dough is hardly the route to karmic balance, I don’t want to poison my fellow ritual participants! After all, what has the dough ever done to me?

With a conscious effort, I let go of my frustrations. Gently, I press the dough, pulling it out, folding it firmly and turning it. Under my fingers it lies back and relaxes. In turn, I feel my muscles release.

The dough is pushing up against the tea cloth on top of the bowl. Eyeless and smooth faced, it rises, silently, purposefully. Carefully, I tip it out onto the oiled baking tray and begin to divide it into equal golf ball sized lumps. I set it tenderly upon the bedside table in my warm and cozy bedroom to prove further.

The rolls have spread out and joined up. Gently I carry the baking tray, like a sleeping infant I fear to wake. Softly I slide it into the oven. I ease close the door and tiptoe away.

The house is filled with the sweet dry smell of baking bread. It is ready! Eagerly, I reach into the hot oven and withdraw the tray. I pick up a round roll easily from the tray and tap its bottom. Satisfyingly, it sounds hollow. The bread is done.

I balance a bread roll upon my palm. It is fiercely hot. I imagine the sun in my hand, its heat radiating through me. I pick up a knife and slice into the bread.

I breathe deeply, above the yeasty sourness, beyond the sweet dry heat of baked bread; the herbs I liberally tossed into the dough speak clearly. Aromatically spicy yet loudly singing of the hedgerow, they waft up towards me. I breathe in deeply, tasting parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. I begin to hum quietly to myself, as I separate out the rolls and arrange them in the basket to cool.

A warm wind puffs impertinently in my face as I stride across the heath. The path rises over the roundness of the land. Ahead of me, someone is setting a stiff pace, but despite my sweating forehead, I am exhilarated by the walk. I bend my steps determinedly up the hill in pursuit.

We turn from the path and step gingerly down a narrow trail between the trees. Immediately, the air cools and the greenness of crushed grass rises sweetly on the breeze. Panting, I breathe in and sigh with pleasure. There’s been hardly any rain for weeks, but still the heath is a riot of many soft perfumes.

Here is the perfect glade amongst the trees. Dissected by small desire lines, it is quiet and relatively untried by general walkers.

We’re here to mark the wake of Lugh. It is almost harvest time. We stand in the place of waiting just before we reap what we have sewn.

In amongst the sun striped trees, we dance a wake for Lugh.

“This is the wake of Lugh the sun king,
Who lost his life on Solstice day.
This is the wake of Lugh the sun king,
Who goes into the dark to show us the way.
Oh tell me why, Oh tell me why,
Tell me why must the clouds come to cover the sky?
Oh tell me why, oh tell me why,
Tell me why does the sun king have to die?”

The tall grass, bleached brittle by the sun’s heat, dances with us in the breeze. Small buzzing creatures float in a veil against our damp faces. We sit in circle and pour our grief like tears upon the ground with sprinkled water. Ears of grain are passed around. My fingers tees the seed heads and the husks crumble into dust in my lap. The solid wood, full of the sun is warm to the touch. I imagine flames slowly consuming it, radiating heat, like the comfort of a slow burning fire in winter.

The sun is in the grain, the grain is in the bread, the bread is in my mouth, I eat the sun so it might warm me through the coming dark. I break off pieces of home-made herb bread and allow its dry savouryness to fill my mouth. I can taste the sun with every mouthful. I taste the herbs, their dried leaves flavored with the remembrance of sunshine. Yum!

In the distance, a distorted voice amplified into reverberating obscurity bounces off the trees. In nearby Kenwood, the evening act is doing a sound check. I hear it mingle with the cooing pigeons and feel wings beating on leaves in the tree canopy above our heads.

We pass red juice around the circle. Sweet, yet sour, it coats my tongue. I imagine its deep vivid redness, dark, like the splash of blood against the fading grass.

There are not enough of us to do a spiral dance, so we each hop about on our own in an alfresco bop as we dance for a harvest for our community and a harvest for the world.

Debbie Harrie, (for it is she doing the sound check) bawls out
“River Deep mountain High, yeah, yeah, yeah,” and we sing:

“We all come from the goddess, unto her we shall return,
Like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean.
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn
All that dies shall be reborn.
Corn and grain, corn and grain,
All that falls shall rise again.”

On either side of the narrow path, the brittle glittering dry grass waves in the evening breeze. A mackerel sky spreads across the southern horizon above a shining London. The sun low and warm is hot upon my cheek. We climb northward, leaving the rolling green and brown heath behind until the tumult that is a hot summer Saturday evening in London takes us firmly back to reality.

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