Copyright all Text and Images J.A. Hindle 2008
Some of the best times came when I was down from the trees and sat by the fire at night. The firepit was close to the trunk of the beech tree, with a pallet for a kitchen; somewhere to put all the mugs and pots and plates to stop them getting spattered in leafmould with the rain. If any mugs, or anything else, were left on the ground the night of a shower, the morning would find them encrusted with a thin skin of forest floor. The essence of the woods began to creep under our skin, everything began to taste of it. Our clothes smelt of it from the smoke and the dry leaf dust of the bender floors. Our fingernails and our hair were full of it. I adopted a motto; "a little bit of dirt does you good." It might not have been true, but it was better to believe it, considering the circumstances.
I got my first rudimentary cooking lessons around the fire, in between messing around with torch beams - rude light sabres formed from the steam, evoking old jedis, but smelling of cabbage. The lessons involved boiling water and whatever vegetables happened to be around, which always included cabbage. There was a cabbage in the food store that never seemed to die, sustained on an unlikely half-life, where it rose half resurrected every morning, greeting you with a defiant cross section and a vague sulphuric whiff of slow decay.