How the pickle jar saved me
For more than two decades I have devoted the first hour of every day to a morning ritual in which only the lucky among us can indulge.
A freshly made cup of coffee, the morning newspapers and peace and quiet in my back garden is, I think, a fitting reward for this middle aged retirement-track journalism teacher after 40 years of hard yakka.
In days gone, my early morning ritual was conducted in a newspaper office – before my younger, sleep-deprived colleagues slunk into the office and well out of sight of the usually gruff editor who was holed up in a plush office doing exactly what I was doing.
But two weeks ago, the ritual and I took a dive in that very back garden that, until that moment, had been a joyous place.
After the dust settled in the hospital emergency department, the news, delivered so delicately and with human sensitivity came from an uninterested and detached nurse:
“You’ve broken your pelvis.”
No longer interested in the morning news, my days now begin with a countdown to the next bunch of pills that will bring me some relief from the searing pain.
And eight days later, the crippled and despondent health system spits me out with only a pair of crutches and a handful of the magic opiates addicts sell their soul to get.
But waiting for me at my home are a band of girlfriends and my big brother who supply me with accessible food, washing services and company.
One of the girls has a plan. Cutlery, cups, kettle set out on the bench and a red supermarket bag slung around my neck – for carrying essential stuff, of course.
The morning after my early release for good behaviour, I arise confident and grateful to be back in my sanctuary.
I boil the kettle, grab the cup that is strategically placed nearby and make that first cup of lovely good quality instant coffee.
But, hang on a sec, how am I to transport it? A crutch in the left hand, another in the right and a dilly bag around my neck.
As necessity really is the mother of invention, I dig around in the cupboards, pivoting delicately on one crutch and retrieve a used but clean pickle jar with a screw top lid.
Nothing more elegant than a 500g home brand jar of Sweet Mustard Pickles, now consumed, as the perfect vessel to get my steaming coffee from the kitchen to the patio.
The coffee goes in the jar, the jar in the bag, the crutches swing in alternating forward motion and some minutes later I am on my back patio, where a kind neighbour has placed my morning newspapers.
Of course it takes some moments for me to adjust my eager lips to the feel of the rippled glass edge of the jar but once the aromatic liquid touches my throat, bliss is returned.
If not for the emptiness of the days without the company of my colleagues, my new batch of Jschool students and dozens of important emails, I am complete, thanks to the pickle jar.
Photo: Callum Bell