We sat on the grass verges outside our house in summer, eating clover flowers. Purple or white, they all tasted sweet, though Mum was concerned: ‘A dog may have peed on them!’ she’d proclaim. She never stopped us, though. We’d make daisy chains, as well, late into the evening, our tiny fingernails making slits the size of needle-heads that Mum could no longer see without her ‘specs’ on.
I wasn’t a dirt-eater, though I spent a lot of time grubbing around in it. That didn’t bother Mum. I’m sure it was good for my immune system, along with the sparsity of anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-anything-natural chemicals around our house. These items weren’t in everyday use in those days; you simply didn’t see cleaning products in plastic containers. If something came in a bottle, it’d be glass – returnable, no doubt. There were tins of Brasso and Silvo wadding under the sink, and a jar of something purple which she used to smear across the windows with a rag – ah, Windolene! that was it; it smelled of Brasso, without the ammonia. I don’t know why she didn’t just use vinegar; I know we had big (glass) bottle of the stuff for our fish ‘n’ chips on a Friday. Dad would drive to the outskirts of Brighton for it, and sometimes I’d go too, and he’d take me to the sweet-shop next door for a quarter of soft, pink ‘shrimps’ in a white paper bag. But I digress.
I think of all this, as I put a stalk into my mouth and savour its grassy sweetness. I’m sitting on a rock and I do it without thinking; a lifelong habit. Here, though, the danger is not from dogs. A human might have peed on it – or worse – although I have been careful to climb amongst the tumble of rocks to a place few tourists so far venture. It is a sobering thought that much of the ‘danger’ and pollution in the world now comes from ourselves – human beings, in our exponential proliferation and mindless ‘progress’. We disinfect our homes to sterility then defecate in beauty spots and discard plastic in the sea, which we then consume, via our fish ‘n’ chips.
It’s a topsy-turvy world, and I often feel a need to be far away from other people, which is becoming increasingly difficult even in this once-remote corner of the country. Of course, it is summer, and we are enjoying a prolonged hot and sunny spell in which I simply must be outside. Chewing on grass, or sharing a drink with like-minded friends counts, and is one of the simple joys in life. Cheers!