Thursday, February 03, 2005

If you've read my book Fruitflesh, you know I have a thing for strawberries. In case you haven't read it, I should mention that "A strawberry changed my life" is the very first sentence.

Strawberries have changed other people's lives, too. My husband read this passage to me from The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander, a book I never would have expected to hold strawberries:

One of the most moving moments in my life, was also one of the most ordinary. I was with a friend in Denmark. We were having strawberries for tea, and I noticed that she sliced the strawberries very very fine, almost like paper. Of course, it took longer than usual, and I asked her why she did it. When you eat a strawberry, she said, the taste of it comes from the open surfaces you touch. The more surfaces there are, the more it tastes. The finer I slice the strawberries, the more surfaces there are.

Her whole life was like that. It is so ordinary, that it is hard to explain what is so deep about it. Animal, almost, nothing superfluous, each thing that is done, done totally. To live like that, it is the easiest thing in the world; but for a man whose head is full of images, it is the hardest. I learned more about building in that one moment, than in ten years of building.

Amazing what a stawberry can teach us, what a person can teach us through a strawberry. Writers, like architects, so often live in our heads. It is so good to remember to drop back into our body, to taste those open surfaces.

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