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