So, I'm minding my business early on Saturday morning as I find myself in need of an extra stick or two of rhubarb for work. I'm sure you often find yourself in a similar rhubarb-less situation early on weekend work days too, so you'll be aware of the issue. No? Really? OK, just me then. Well bearing in mind I had an early ferry to catch, I had to improvise. I'd rung a local pal, who was all out of the pink stuff, so I had to get my thinking cap on.
Anyway picture the scene, you've a lot on and you've little time to do it before you catch a ferry to another island to present a wee workshop, rhubarb of course, what else at this time of year. So you have a brainwave as you pack the car about the patch of 'feral rhubarb' just outside of your village. You know the patch, the one that's just beyond the village by the side of the road at the end of an old abandoned garden, house long derelict. Perfect you think, accessible and on the way. This has all the makings of a cunning plan don't you think?
So, on a crisp clear Saturday morning and just before 9 am you head out car packed for your adventure to foreign lands enroute to rhubarb central. You know, minding your own business and hoping to be quick, efficient and to get to the next part of your day without much delay.
I amble along, radio on, toward the 'feral' rhubarb patch. Mindful that one stalk will do but two would be perfect. Stopping carefully just off the road in the old drive I nip out and
pilfer forage for a stalk or two of the pinky-goodness that is early crop rhubarb. The skies are clear and the patch is forthcoming. I stand with my two stalks like an air traffic controller guiding a plane in. Very pleased I was with my foraging too.
The thing I didn't factor is this, its a busy island this land that I live in, so within moments of stopping and successfully foraging some sweet stalks a car slows and pulls in beside me.
I panic. Whilst I know this patch well, the house abandoned, the rhubarb at the edge of the boundary, for all intensive purposes, wild (ish) and therefore game for a bit of a forage in my mind.
The lady gets out. In fear of 'the jail' or at least a good telling off for helping myself to her aunty/mother/grannie/grandads/2ndcousins rhubarb - I put the rhubarb gently behind my back (nothing to see here) - it lollops behind me like rabbits floppy lugs - bear in mind I'm not very tall and the rhubarb is ample, to say the least. At best I look like a lunatic with green floppy ears, at worst, I've a bad case of 'rhubarb lugs'.
'All OK?' she ventures - nodding towards the car, hazards blinking and screaming away like sirens. My comedic ears, potentially invisible, I hoped not!?
'Great, all good, just needed a couple of these' I smile, sheepishly pulling the rhubarb 'lugs' from behind me.
'Grand patch that one, glad you're OK' she laughs, turns and heads back to her car. I thank her for her concern, my cheeks the colour of rhubarb myself, pink and shiny.
As I'm getting the '
stolen goods' foraged rhubarb stalks, into the back of the car, a second car slows - the window winding down - I mouth the words 'rhubarb' pointing to the patch, (now almost famous) -- they smile and drive on.
As the third car approaches, its slows and I smile, my best, 'yes I'm
robbing a rhubarb patch' 'foraging rhubarb this early' smile. Hand back into boot - I hold out the stick waggling its contraband for all to see.
Two thumbs up and a huge smile from the cars passenger - they sped up and go past.
Now, you've got to love a place where if you're stopped by a wee nook at the side of the road, for less than the time it takes you to wrestle two rhubarb stalks from a giant abandoned patch, folks take the time to stop to check you're OK.
'Twas only when I got into the car, seeing myself branded to the hilt in my 'work' clobber that I realised that my upandcoming workshop wasn't just being advertised on the radio this fine morning. I did a fine personal appearance and bit of local advertising, (rhubarb leaf lugs and all), myself.
You'll likely see me on news at ten before the weeks out. Ach well, its not as if you can buy the stuff here in the shops, so when caught short. even for work, the only option is a wee forage after all. Does that sound like a viable defence? Or more like a 'crime of passion' - it was rather tasty after all.