Friday, 27 July 2012

Summer Evening Scribbles

I am sitting at the top patio of my garden in the dark. I know this picture is of the garden in the daylight, but the one I took of it in darkness was rather lacking in visual information. "Top Patio" makes it sound grand: The garden is really only 45 feet square. Originally on a thirty degree angle, Mrs E designed it cleverly such that it is now on five levels. I am at the penultimate level, shaded from the freshening wind by the  black bamboo on one side and hawthorn and hornbeam hedge on the other. The sultry heat which we had for a few rare and precious days has departed and though I enjoyed the novelty, this is far more comfortable.
It is quite dark now and I have a fairly rubbish wind-up lantern with which to see the keyboard by. (I can sort-of touch type but the variety of keyboards I use, their haptic differences and the relative placings of special characters necessitate me being able to see the keys)
In the hedge behind me is some insistent and occasionally indignant rustling. I would like to think it is tiny people who live in the base of the hedge and it was accepted in more superstitious times that hedges were impenetrable places which harboured spirits (indeed, I believe the words "hag" and hedge have similar origins). Sometimes when I work from home, I feel as if strange eyes are regarding me with amusement at the folly of my arcane daily transactions. When I look, perhaps I see a movement. Or perhaps it is just a blackbird or wren darting for cover.

Tonight, I was startled by the sound of something scrambling under the fence. Scratching and snuffling, a hedgehog squeezed under and proceeded to nuzzle around myopically for slugs in the leaf litter. So much life goes on around us without our knowing. A toad is waddling under a ledge of marjoram, frogs croak in the pond. And normally, I am indoors oblivious to this other world.

But tonight, I am out here in the dark, with a pint of Bath Ales' finest brown English beer. Actually, I just quaffed the last half inch from my glass and it causes me to muse on something that has been bothering me for a while: Enjoyment. Pleasure. Experience in general perhaps ?
I enjoyed the beer. I enjoyed the pouring of it, the settling of the bubbles into a creamy head, and of course the drinking of it.  I enjoyed the feeling of having three quarters of it remaining as I drank it. And I enjoyed savouring the last mouthful.
And now it is gone. I have the memory of its enjoyment. It's a good memory. I shall, as with many other good memories, revisit it. Beer does leave one with a wonderful sense of having consumed something so very satisfying and it made me ponder for a while upon what precisely I enjoyed about its consumption.
So, this brings me on to what I refer in my head to the "choc ice" question, which popped into my head yesterday as I ate a magnum double choc caramel Mrs E had thoughtfully bought for me:
If I have a choc ice, and you have a choc ice, and I eat mine in half the time you do, who, ten minutes later can deem that they had the most pleasure?
Or if one day I eat it in a minute and another I eat it in three, how can I know which of the two, from the vantage point of now, in the relative future gave me most pleasure? In both cases, I will have had the enjoyment of eating a choc ice. Did it matter if I ate it fast or slowly?

Ok, I suspect the answer is irrelevant anyway, but it gives me pause for thought each time I tear open the packet of a choc ice. How best to enjoy it for posterity. Or now.
In general, it seems most pleasures are best savoured. This gives a longer "now" in which the sensations can be enjoyed, But the subjective memory of a now that lasted three minutes is much the same as one that lasted a minute. Isn't it?

It seems a silly way to waste mental energy I know. But it has implications. So many pleasures are to to be had and how best are we to enjoy them? Long savoured or merely a quickie?

Beats me. Anyway I need another pint. And the insects are biting me so I am going inside. Goodnight everyone!


Librarian said...

Your garden looks lovely - just the right mixture between letting things grow and making sure they don't get out of hand; neither over-groomed nor under-cared for. Mrs. E has done a great job with the design, I am truly impressed!

The choc ice question leads to other questions, of course. How much did you crave the choc ice when you bought it (or it was bought for you)? Was it at the end of a hot day, or did you have it while on a touristy trip to a fascinating and beautiful place, taking in the surroundings as you were enjoying the crack of the choc and the sensation of the ice cream on your tongue? Who was with you, what were you talking about? And so on.
Generally, I think something that lasts longer and is repeated more often can more easily leave a lasting impression in our memory. But there are moments, however short, that become, for one reason or other, indelible from our minds, whether we want them there or not.

Librarian said...

Forgot to ask what's the wigwam for? Are you growing vegetable there, too, not just at your allotment?

PerlNumquist said...

Actually, the picture of the garden is an old one, but it was the only one I had showing most of the levels. The bamboo on the left is now about 6m high and the birch trees are much bigger. The wigwam was for sweet peas.
The Magnum was entirely unanticipated. But don't get me started on the anticipation problem :-)

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