So, I’m doing it again

NaNoWriMo 2010 is almost upon us, and there was never any question that I’d do it again. This time, I have a title and a basic idea, my first scene sort of pictured in my head and… and that’s it. So I shall, as the saying on the NaNo forums goes, be pantsing it (ie, writing by the seat of my pants and seeing where the wind blows, hopefully in the direction of a decent plot).

So much else is set to happen in November and this is just one more thing to add to the madness. Not to worry – it’s only writing. I’ll just have to haul my arse out of bed an hour or so earlier each morning to make sure I get in my quota of words for the day. (Easier said than done, but this is NaNoWriMo – it’s all about insanity and impossible goals.)

Talking of insanity, I have finally done what has been in the back of my mind for years – I’ve made some sloe gin. We went out yesterday to a place in Hassocks, spent half an hour collecting them (and getting scratched by long thorns – Mother Nature provides, but she makes sure the gatherers suffer), and brought them back via Lidl’s, where I’d bought gin especially. I bloody hate gin, but I’m intensely curious about what this stuff tastes like. If I don’t like it, I can give it away and I can use the rest of the sloes, currently residing happily in tubs in the freezer, for something else. But I’m hoping it’ll taste better than ordinary gin. I can only wait and see. Collecting the sloes, in any case, gave me an enormous amount of pleasure. It was cold and the sloes often hid among the tiny leaves – though that was part of the fun of finding them – plus walking back across the field we had to avoid stepping in packages several dogs had left behind (owners obviously never heard of poo bags). But it was great. Sloes are available to pick but one month a year – this month – and it was wonderful to be able to connect with the earth in such a personal way, knowing that after this, there’ll be no more sloes till next year.

It reminds me of something I get passionate about: the detrimental effect of the large supermarkets on small businesses and the fact that no one knows any more what’s in season when because everything is available all year round, even if it’s not native to this country. Apples, now in season, are forced under glass, making them tasteless, or imported, so they have to be cultivated to make them last – making them (almost) tasteless. There are exceptions, as there always are, but it’s surely always better to work with Nature rather than against her. Life is so much more exciting if you have only a few weeks to gather certain berries. Winter squashes are in season, now: pumpkins, butternuts, carnivals. But you’ll be hard pushed to find any decent blackberries still on the bushes. If you want them, fine, go and buy them. But don’t expect them to taste good, and even less expect them to taste anything like as amazing as the ones you gather yourself while they’re in season.

So go forth and do something wild, something nuts, something truly exhilarating. Let go for a while. Let the line between modern and traditional blur, just a little. Connect.

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