Why is salt white? Of course, the answer is obvious once you consider the whole process of salt-making, all that seawater landing, drying out in the sun and the wind and turning hard. There is no room for black. Pink, yes, if the crystallisation work is done in pink areas of the world. But not black. Why not? This is a question from a young and curious mind, a soft wild muscle yet to be world-handled into a stultified realism. In this mind, anything is possible and to be on the receiving end of such a question is to breath childhood back in to ageing lungs. Refreshing, it is, and in a split second, half listening whilst I consider whether or not to add Worcester sauce to the stir fry, my mind firmly sat sitting in the stop of what is and what is not possible, I gasp. Wow! What a great question! (when did I stop fiddling with the boundaries of possibles?)
I don’t know, I reply, turning away from the pan. The should-I, shouldn’t- I of Worcester sauce suddenly lumpates me into a block of lard. When did my head get world-handled into a sort of predictable stagnation? I look down at her face, all smooth and wide-open and I want so much to wander with her around the globe in search of black salt. I want nothing more right now. We could go to books and study and flick Google into life, but I just know therein lies disappointment so I don’t even suggest it. I have, however, lost all interest in the useful, or not, properties of Worcester sauce and my childmind heads off to Brazil or to the days of Viking Kings, or even into the land of Grimm wherein can be found all manner of black things.
In older children I can see the wane of the breathless moon. That’s nonsense Granny, one might say as I weave a lunatic web of sticky fairies and sun-dappled magical woods in the land of Faraway. But there is a smile and there is silence as I take them with me. The older ones are learning the ways of the world, one they will need to inhabit with both feets on the ground. It feels like a leaving, like an ‘either this or that’ dilemma, well horned up and I want to run after that forming mind and call out…….never forget…..never!
In the ferry queue, sitting in sunshine and surrounded by excited travellers, my eyes turn to a granny, like me, with two little boys in a double buggy. One is quietly watching seagulls flip and toss over his head, the huge ferry making land, the men in flak jackets catching ropes. There is shouting, and beeping and a voice on the tannoy urging passengers to disembark from Deck B (as opposed to leaping overboard of course) and for dogs to be controlled at all times and la la la-di-da. The big ferry mouth begins to rise, making a shin-ding of a noise about it. Slowly slowly, too slowly, it reaches its zenith and the noise stops suddenly, leaving a huge gap in everybody’s listening. The other little boy asks his Granny ‘What happens to noise when it stops, Granny? Where does it go?’
She catches my eye and we smile a shared granny smile. I don’t know, she replies. Maybe, just maybe it goes on to someone else who needs it. ‘What, all the way around the world? he asks, twisting his head to eyeball her.
Maybe, she says. Why not?