I have often wondered why I am so mesmerised by fire. As a young boy I would stare into my grandmother’s fireplace, watching the flames dance with each other. The older I got the more I realised that fire is an innate part of the human psyche. So much so that I am beginning to think there is something genetic to our fascination with the beauty of fire. There has certainly been enough time for a ‘fire fascination’ to have entered our genetic make-up. If epigenetics can have an effect generation to generation, then obviously 100,000 years of fire, or however long humans have commanded it is certainly enough time for it to become a part of us psychologically.
Or maybe I just wanted to write that because I’ve been messing around with HDR shots of a fireplace with my camera!
This past couple of months has seen some considerable effort put into a project at work. 14-15 hour days, forgetting to eat, amongst other negative psychological effects. If one good existential thing has come out of all the extra effort, is a reminder that hard work brings a ‘swing’ effect that allows you to appreciate the positives that much more. In my case, it is the ability to drive for 30 minutes in any direction and be presented with mountains, evergreen plantations, deciduous forests, wetland nature preserves, secluded bays, long sandy beaches, medieval castles and hilltop towers.
The other day, I took a walk up at Ballaugh Curraghs. Believe it or not there are Wild WALLABIES. Yes, wild wallabies in a wetland forest! I didn’t get any photos of those, but it still gave me a ‘recharge’. Sometimes the sun is in the right place in the sky, the trees are at the right angle, and the temperature is perfect for how you are feeling. That was this day.
A sign of good food is the finished plate. In this case, home made guacamole and doritos! If I’m honest the doritos are superfluous, I often eat guacamole all by itself!
The rain whips and crackles against the double glazing as the new wood-stove sends waves of heat into my soul, rejuvenating me from within. I listen to atmospheric music and imagine giant swells of dark Atlantic winter waves boiling and howling with storm energy. Somewhere out there in the obsidian vastness, thousands of sea creatures are living and dying, out of sight. Sometimes your imagination is your best friend on cold nights like these, when you remember yourself as a child, scared of monsters and seeking solace from maternal family members.
The cool trickles of water you hear on your walking travels.
In spring they indicate a freshness of life.
In the summer they are a psychological respite from the heat of late afternoon sun.
In autumn they just seem miserable.
As for winter, cold water touched by ice a embodies purity and stillness.
As it is autumn, there is a dampness around after a late evening downpour that is only intensified by the sound of water trickling off every surface. It inspires nothing more than a need to get home, warm and dry. If I were more adventurous today I would probably blend some fresh raspberries with some elderflower cordial, maybe warming it in the microwave into some kind of fresh fruit tea, but yet again apathy gets the better of me and I accept the ubiquitous yet intensely refreshing sensation of fresh tap water. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, you just can’t be bothered doing a bloody thing.
We walk along the various paths surveying the decay of the vegetation. Piles of leaves are scattered everywhere. In the wetter parts of the woodland, wild spearmint grows. I pinch a flower atop half a stalk, first crushing the surrounding leaves, then the flower itself. It strikes me how much more potent the scent is from the flower. Fresh mint evokes a sense of cleanliness, uplifting while imparting a soft cool numbness. I vow to create a dish where the mint flower is the star, but today we are here for work. There is a new hive in the back of the car, full of rather relaxed bees. The constant bouncing of the car on the journey over would usually infuriate other strains, and by now they would be ready to kill, but today we are lucky. We install the beehive, and feed every hive present so that the other stronger colonies will not steal the newer, less established hive’s food and try to kill them. The sun is setting and the air temperature is dropping so we head back. In tribute to the day’s success a steak and onion sandwich with Manx wetland honey and Canadian cheddar is the only way to go… Served up in giant fresh white baps with the caramel lick of slow fried shallots. When eating the mind wanders to whether those bees found the clump of spearmint nearby, and whether it is emaprting any flavour compounds into what I’m eating. I also wish I’d taken a fucking picture of the mint.
As I walk along the prom I can sense the first telltale signs of Autumn. The distinct smell of woodsmoke on dense cool air. But where is it coming from? Must be a house. As I look up at the renewed wildness in the twilight clouds, the pristine silverness of their edges. I consider our origins as two black suits amble along the shores edge, discussing the day’s deals. I cross a tree that has barely any leaves left, it is naked, and looks like a skinny dragon. We have begun the yearly descent into the dormancy of winter, and I love it.