This is a sample of a book I have been messing about with writing. What do you think and should I carry on and write the whole thing?
To a modern person there is nothing terribly exciting about an orange but historically, for everyone but the very rich or the royal, the orange was a highly prized commodity and every part of it was used. Discarded peel was not thrown away but was dried to add to pot pourri or was candied to add to cakes, or was ground up and used in medicines. The vitamin rich fruit was until quite recently extremely expensive and hard to come by; those lucky children who found one at the foot of their Christmas stocking would have been more excited and pleased about it than any modern child can now imagine.
The sweet scent of an orange being peeled can lighten and freshen the atmosphere of a room and is especially helpful during the winter when its flesh and its fragrance can help ward off colds and also the blues.
For this meditation you will need either an orange (or Satsuma or other small citrus fruit) or you may use essential oil of orange placed either on an oil burner near where you are to sit, or a single drop on a strip of blotting paper.
Using the techniques described in chapter 3, begin to relax and enter a receptive state. When you feel comfortable, using a fingernail or a paring knife, scrape along the very top surface of the orange skin releasing the volatile oil. Hold the orange close to your face so that the aroma of the wounded skin can reach your nostrils without having to touch your skin. Breathe in the scent, slowly, allowing yourself to breathe normally, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow the fragrance to fill you.
Now is the time to begin, still breathing steadily and softly allowing the scent of the orange to enter your nose and then your mind.
You are standing amid a grove of mature orange trees, their trunks thick and strong. Through the canopy of branches you can see a brilliant blue sky, without a hint of a cloud anywhere, and the sun shines fiercely down, baking the ground to brick hardness. It is very still and distantly, beyond the trees you can see the shimmer of a deeper blue, telling you that you are not very far from the sea. Crickets sing but the birds have all sought shelter from the heat of the sun.
Walk deeper into the grove. The thick leathery leaves provide some protection from the intense sunshine, but when you look closer at some of the lower branches you can see that the leaves are dry and coated with a fine white dust. When you look at your feet as you slowly walk along, you can see little puffs of pale dust rising each time you set your feet down.
Look up at the trees. They are covered in both flowers and fruit and the scent of the flowers in particular is intoxicating, but the flowers are beginning to look slightly dry too, and the fruits are not as big or as juicy looking as you might imagine. Under the trees a little grass grows but it is looking tired and dusty too. You’d like to sit down but the grass looks uninviting. Walk a little further.
As you go deeper into the grove, the air grows heavier with both heat and fragrance, but the shade is very welcome and as you walk you see a bench built around the trunk of one of the oldest trees. The bench curves beautifully to encircle the orange tree; the wood is polished to a soft sheen by countless years of use. This is where the workers sit to take their ease and enjoy refreshment during the day. There is no one here now so approach the bench.
On a small earthenware plate lies a pearl handled knife and an orange that one of the workers cut in half to eat and then left to seek the coolness of the farmhouse a short distance away. Sit down near the plate; the worker is fast asleep and will not be returning soon.
The bench is surprisingly comfortable, low and broad in the seat and the supporting back is angled so you can lean back a little and peer into the branches of the tree and see bright glimpses of the blue of the sky above. The scent of the opened orange rises to greet you and is incredibly refreshing and relaxing all at the same time. It cuts through the heavy scent of the flowers and dust.
Make yourself comfortable on the bench. I will leave you here for a while to enjoy the rest and the shade and the fragrance.
You are brought back to awareness by a change in the air. The light has changed too and as you look at the ground, a single immense drop of rain falls onto the ground and sends up a tiny cloud of dust. A second drop and then a third falls. Finally, the dry spell is being broken by the much-needed rain.
Stand up and begin walking back the way you entered the grove. Even through the thick canopy of leaves, the rain still strikes you, but it is warm rain and very pleasant after the oppressive heat and unrelenting sun. Pretty soon you are wet through. It’s a nice feeling, like a warm shower.
As you leave the grove, stop a moment and turn back and look. Each leaf has been washed clean of the white dust of high summer, and all the fruits seem to be swelling and growing before your eyes, their skins clean and vibrant with the new rain. The flowers seem to perk up, their scent changed by the falling rain into something lighter, fresher and sweeter. The grass below the trees is also looking better, though the dust is turning to soft mud like a milky wash of clay.
Turning back, there is a faint rainbow in the sky, shining, and a rumble of distant thunder encourages you to seek shelter. The drumming of the rain on hard earth continues as you return now to your room and to full consciousness. Breathe deeply a few times and open you eyes. You are back.
Vivienne Tuffnell 2009