Sunday, August 9, 2015

An Elephant in Sutton

As regular blog readers know by now, the biggest highlight of my stay in Canada was meeting and befriending The Mushroom Hunter and his girlfriend, my very first Quebecoise friend, The Green Tea Drinker. Their lifestyle was unusual and beautiful and I felt blessed to be invited and shown a glimpse of that in real life. Now when I am on the other side of the world, I continue to be charmed by them in their letters and pictures to me and none more so than the last letter showing the creation of a work of art they made for me their Indian visitor. I publish an extract of the letter and photographs with their kind permission here -

Hi Priya,
Here is my long overdue email.
As I had expected, this year is a truly exceptional one for chanterelles. I have already made a provision of frozen bags for the winter, and the chanterelle season still goes on for another month! I am in paradise!
This is a picture of the first bolet of the summer… right in front of my house!

At the end of a usual hunting day in July (these are all chanterelles, also known as giroles) :

After I’ve picked them, I clean them, I slice them…
And then I cook them . the mushroom in the oven are bolets that have been dried in a dehydrator : the last step before putting dried mushrooms in a jar is to shove them in the oven at low temperature for 5 minutes, in order to remove all remaining moisture.

Finally, here is a very nice specimen of a “russule charbonni√®re”, which we have eaten in an omelette the very next day

Last week, I also picked some delicious black raspberry with my hat

As for “something Indian in the garden”, there where complications. As you will discovered momentarily, this was supposed to be a “living sculpture”. We’ve been growing beans and vine on it for two months now, but… We had several incidents. First, the beans we planted were too old and did not grow. The new ones were growing well, so much so that our groundhog in residence, Lady Gaga, took notice and took a bite… and another… and another. So we took action and put a protective net all around the structure to make it Lady Gaga’s proof. After that, everything seemed to be coming along nicely… until the dreadful Night of the Deer… The beast, coming from nowhere, devoured almost completely all the plants on one side of the structure. So, again, we installed more protective nets in the hope to save whatever remained. And then came the beetles. These little scoundrels ate and are still eating our vine…  So, in a nutshell, the structure which was supposed to be entirely covered with living stuff by now, has been stripped down time and time again, leaving the following result, which I now present to you without further ado-
Can you guess what it is?  No?
OK, here’s a clue : it’s an animal.
OK, this animal lives in your country.
Still no idea?
OK, OK, how about this : one of your deities has its face?
Do you see it now?
By god sake, Priya, it’s a bloody elephant! Do you notice the familiar (and huge) silhouette? OK, now, do you see, right in the middle,  the big ear… and next to it, the tusk and the trunk? No? OK then, can we at least agree that it is vaguely reminiscent of an elephant? Yes? Good! Good! That’s what I was going for anyway… The vague is so in vogue nowadays, don’t you think?

Anyway, two things make this sculpture YOUR elephant :
~ the spirals all over its body, in reference to your beautiful post on the concept ofspirals;

your walking stick – the one you chose when we went hiking together – which is now part of the sculpture, but also removable, in case anyone needs it for a walking expedition. 

So in a sense, you are still here with us


Aarthi said...

such a beautiful letter :)

Julie said...

I'd recognize this cat's bum anywhere.
And the elephant now has a luminous mantilla, very pretty at night!

Kashmira Patel said...

LOVED this post!

PS: Still wondering why you unfriended me :(