It is taking all my willpower to simply type what I have written this morning and not edit it! But, here goes:
Ophelia wrote a story called Mr Rosehip Tea. It was one of the first stories she shared with me. I didn’t know her very well then, but now I see that the story was one that only she could have told. Madcap, of course, and very witty. It was one of those that effervesces off the page.
Last week, a poet I know posted a picture on facebook of a basket of rose hips that she had gathered out on a walk. They looked like little jewels – garnets – shiny, brilliant, the fruit of the rose, pungent and full of acidity. Seems a fitting concentration of the flower who is dully reputed for beauty and sweetness. There’s a perverse comfort in learning that the end result of so much gorgeousness is something hard, tart, and bright.
It took me a long time to connect these red baubles with the soft flowers they issue from. I thought it was just another case of two things with related names who weren’t actually related – like all the different Ellie Wilsons I’ve known. But no, one is the evolution, the eventual state of the other.
Lemon Zinger tea. When I was young, I remember going to someone’s house and being offered Lemon Zinger tea. Of course I accepted. It sounded bohemian and earthy. I loved the colour. This tea has, as a main ingredient, rose hips. The tea is a deep scarlet with a pungent smell. It was such a disappointment, the taste, though. In order to get the colour dark enough to be beautiful, I had to let the tea steep so long it became chokingly strong to the taste. Trade off? Or maybe an acknowledgment that intensity permeates: strong colour, strong taste. One cannot be both bold and mild.