Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chestnut Sweet

This is the time of the chestnuts and my neighbour's children and friends collected many from the next street. They set up a small stall to trade in these lovely fruits and the chestnuts in the picture constitute the remainder!. I positioned them just beneath the window in the hall as a most beautiful sunlight filtered through. The chestnut (the sweet chestnut in Europe) involves an interesting symbolism. The Chinese see it as corresponding with the west and place it on alters facing that way. It's a symbol of foresight, perhaps because it was saved as a winter food. And it's a symbol of chastity in Christianity.There is an enormous chestnut tree in Sicily on the banks of Mount Etna, claimed by one scientist to be 4000 years old. So maybe it's also because of the tree''s longevity that its chestnuts are associated with foresight. I recall the smell of roast chestnuts in London many years ago - around the beginning of November. They were roasting on cinders burning in a mobile vendor's wagon. If I concentrate, I can still sense that sweet smell.