Beautiful broad beans, each nestled like a baby in its own little furry-lined bed. It’s sixty years since I shelled beans or peas, but my fingers have their own memory and know what to do with this fat pod before I can even begin to try to remember. Suddenly I’m about six years old, sitting outside the kitchen door on such a sunny summer’s day as this with a colander in my lap, allowed to help with preparing dinner by shelling beans and peas – this in the days before we got them frozen from the supermarket, of course.
I’m tempted to take the kitchen stool outside and recapture the feeling! I’m also reminded of a childhood experiment where I let a broad bean germinate, a wonderful experience, as it grew and developed so fast. Wonderful is the mot juste here, as I recall my wonder each day at seeing this little bean begin to sprout and then turn into a plant with leaves.
And then I have to smile as I think of one of the stories of Le Petit Nicolas (a popular character in French children’s literature) whose exasperated parents run out of ideas to entertain him in the long summer vacation, and constantly repeat: “Go and germinate a bean!”
Today’s beans are a gift from a neighbour with an allotment – a vegetable plot, where he grows all kinds of things, and kindly supplies his immediate neighbours with the surplus. I also have a nice fresh lettuce in the pantry, picked yesterday, which will go into our teatime salad. There’s a recipe for poppy seed salad dressing on the label of the cider vinegar bottle that I am dying to try out since for once I have all the ingredients. And some prawns. And some raspberries. Ought to go.
I’m feeling very blessed this last couple of weeks. First there were some very nice birthday presents – such as an external drive for my Mac and a gorgeous set of drawing pencils and crayons in a wooden box (these look so beautiful, I can’t bear to spoil the sharp points by using them, and once they have been sharpened they will no longer be all the same length, like a regiment of guards). Also, not only have two major issues that I was rather concerned about melted away like snow in the sunshine, but in addition I’ve had a few minor proofs that Someone is taking care of me and providing for my needs. The beans are a bonus!
For example, I have discovered a closed group on facebook for the British Colostomy Association. I have no real problems with my stoma, but it’s always reassuring to find others in the same boat, and this is a site where very real and personal matters are openly discussed. I have picked up a few tips, and been very impressed by how caring and friendly everyone in this group is. True empathy. My only disappointment is that I won’t be able to attend their Open Day in a fortnight, as I have a couple of prior engagements that weekend, so I won’t make the acquaintance of these lovely people in person. But this group is truly an unexpected blessing.
Another unexpected blessing occurred just after my birthday. I had been thinking that I could do with a new handbag, as I now have to tote my emergency colostomy travel kit around with me whenever I go out. I was thinking that a sensible “granny” bag with a couple of compartments would be useful, but I don’t have the opportunity very often to go shopping in places where such things are sold. Then lo and behold, I bought a raffle ticket for a good cause at a small charity garden party (I don’t usually gamble) and won a prize – a nice black bag with separate compartments, where I can stow everything I need in an organised manner. And not so many little zippy pockets that I forget where everything is. Perfect!
Finally, this week, the postman brought me a rather strange shaped parcel, resembling a cycling helmet in shape, but squishy. I knew immediately what it was, though the postman was obviously a bit puzzled. It was the result of a conversation two days earlier when a friend I haven’t seen for a long time phoned and in the course of conversation, asked if I needed any bras. Now this is something of a standing joke between us, because she is the only person I know who takes the same bra size as I do – what one might call my bosom friend. I replied that I was hoping to get to M&S sometime, and get some T-shirt bras. “Oh good,” she said, “because I bought 4 and I don’t like them. You can have them if you like.” And they are a perfect fit. How marvellously am I blessed!