An English In Kentucky



















September 16th 2009

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    In the early part of life there are plants which figure.  They arrive in imagination and remain as a signpost.  

    I worked once for an elderly woman for whom this plant was Parsley.  Her interest in Parsley was certainly culinary, but for her the more dramatic role it played in her life was to remind her of her father.   

    On his way home from work, her father would reach into the Parsley that grew beside the back door, pinch a bit off to chew on it.  He always told her that he did this because his body told him to.

   For long years the idea of a body asking for Parsley remained with her.  She well understood a body asking for cream cakes, or strawberry jam, but the idea of a body asking for Parsley struck her as a little peculiar, until one day she read that Parsley was chock full of vitamin 'C'. 

   Her father was also of the opinion that when it came to Parsley only the person in the family who wore the trousers could successfully plant Parsley.  And so every year, her mother would prepare the short sunny bed by the kitchen door so that the man who wore the trousers in the family could scatter the seed, rake it in, step it down and water it. 



    Of these two stories she had learned to understand the first.  A body craves those things it needs.  It associates particular flavors with particular essential elements.  Her father's body had an association with Parsley because of its vitamin.

    When she told me this first story she would laugh in a self deprecating manner.  She would remind me that when she was young her family was very poor and good food was rare.  And she would wonder why it was precisely that her body, well fed and properly cared for as it had become, regularly craved butter salt and milk with her morning oatmeal even though her doctor had told her to stop eating butter salt and milk.

    The second story of Parsley had remained less well resolved in her mind.  When her husband was alive, she would prepare the bed and he would plant the Parsley seed.  After he was gone she had never had any luck with growing Parsley from seed, and this despite many determined efforts.

    We knew each other well enough for me to point at her Parsley seedlings by the back door and suggest that she must have borrowed a pair of trousers because the little plants looked very healthy to me.   She told me the young married woman who lived next door to her had actually planted the seeds.  She had merely opened the seed packet and prepared the bed.

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tim candler

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