An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of February 27, 2011
Issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining
Chichén Itzá Ruin, Yucatán, Mexico

LETTUCE FEELINGS

lettuce

One daily job I look forward to is that of supplying a big bouquet of freshly picked leaf lettuce for the kitchen, such as that seen above.

Picking the lettuce is a sensuous experience. Chilly, early-morning dew on the leaves wets my hands. A lettucy fragrance blossoms around me as I break off the leaves, feeling in my fingertips the faint but fatal snaps of petioles yielding to my force. As I return to the hut to wash the leaves I can't take my eyes off the visually pleasing essay before me, one commenting on the theme of simple but crinkly-edged glowings of yellow greenness contrasting with interior black shadowiness.

Sometimes it's hard to hand over the bouquet to the kitchen staff. By the time I get to the kitchen door I'm sort of bonded with that bunch of lettuce, even to the point of identifying with it.

For, when I'm picking the lettuce I'm doing that slow-simmering kind of reflecting on life everyone does when engaged in non-thinking jobs. And the lettuce's radiant yellow-greenness emerging from silky, deep-rooted blackness, and even its odor of bruised herbage, somehow strike me as exactly matching how I've been feeling lately -- not to mention how each leaf petiole gives that little snap when I pick it, like the thousand little losses one feels every day while aging, leaving behind hair, hearing, sight, strength, memory and more, and sometimes just plain giving up on this or that.

Looking at the lettuce in my hands is in many ways like taking a good look at my own feelings.

And, the destiny of that lettuce... I'll bet that most leaves get thrown away -- a bug-eaten hole on this one, that leaf a little too pale, this one with a small tear, that one with a brown spot, one after another just not good enough for a fancy restaurant. Well, if we're developing a metaphor here, at this point it would be easy to overdo it.

But, sometimes I do wish I knew what happens to what I bring to the kitchen door. I wonder what the use is of such fragile, translucing, yellow-green, crushed-herbage, baroque-fringed gifts... if the one you're giving them to mostly just throws them away. Facebook Icon.