Cooked green vegetables: cabbage; beans; brussel sprouts; and peas should not be grey. My mother's boiled green vegies never were. On the contrary, they were always strangely incandescent and greener than green. Mum used to say that fresh, green vegies like cabbage, brussel sprouts and beans had a wild taste. My grandmother taught her to boil these vegetables up with a spoonful of sugar and bicarbonate of soda to take away the "wild" bitter taste. It is the bicarbonate of soda that accounts for the luminosity of my mother's cooked, green vegetables. Later when microwaves were first introduced, mum would complain that her green vegies stayed too crisp, looked dull and tasted bitter.
The first time I ate grey, green vegetables was at aunty Mary's house in Casterton, a small rural town on the Glenelg River in South West Victoria. Grey cabbage and beans were piled up like a tiny mountain overlooking a valley of whipped-cream, mash potatoes and a river of rabbit stew. The vegies were always freshly harvested from aunty Mary's luscious, vegetable garden. The rabbit was also recently trapped, bled, skinned and cleaned. Tufts of rabbit fur littered the patch of yard just behind the laundry shed and scraps of rabbit kidneys lay in the cats' food bowls.
Aunty Mary bred Siamese cats. Dad once took me to see one of aunty Mary's new litter of kittens. I was overcome by their blind helplessness and cried. A few weeks later I was excited to see the kittens vigorously running around aunty Mary's billiard room. One grey-point kitten was standing in a small bowl of milk lapping it up with much gusto. That kitten came home with me that night, bundled up in one of aunty Mary's old jumpers.
Aunty Mary wasn't really my aunty but a close friend of mum and dad. She first met my parents when her husband Rupert hauled our furniture and crates of belongings from the docks to our new home in Australia. Back then aunty Mary and uncle Rupe lived close by in Glenroy. They were my parents first Aussie friends. Aunty Mary had ginger, red hair and pale white skin. She sang with a soft, Irish lilt and always smelled of roses and strawberries. Later as aunty Mary aged her hair became more and more sandy in colour and then white, but it never turned grey like her cooked vegetables.
©2011 Lenni Morkel-Kingsbury.
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many roads... ...on the journey words follow me, push me forward, and sometimes, overtake me.