Helliconia Cabbage

This isn’t a Helliconia cabbage, it’s a Savoy cabbage.

A Helliconia cabbage would come from Helliconia and Helliconia is a planet located in a binary star system a thousand light-years distant from Earth.  It takes 2,592  small years to complete one round of the Great Year on Helliconia.  It’s as if our earth and our sun were themselves in orbit around a larger sun and it took 2,592 earth years for a full seasonal go round of the Large Sun to take place.   Helliconia’s plants, animal and sentient life forms have all biologically adapted to this unusual arrangement.  In the Fall of the Great Year, and then again in the Spring, the sentient life forms undergo a structural metamorphosis brought about by an acute infection with a specific virus that trigers alteration of their genetic material, and its expression.  In the Great Fall a viral plague sweeps the planet.  It is known as The Fat Death.  Those infected, that survive, go mad and voraciously consume all the calories they can.  When the sickness has passed their genes, and the genes they pass to their offspring, are altered and their body shape is rounder, thicker and far more suited to survive the many centuries of bitter cold to come.

In the Spring of the Great Year the sentient life forms are once again racked by plague and their numbers are decimated by the same viral disease.  This time it manifests as The Bone Fever and it drastically reduces the population leaving the survivors longer, lankier and better equipped to survive centuries of prolonged heat and drought.  A virally induced metamorphosis that switches the body shapes over and over again enabling adaptation to radically changing environments. … [From a book, “Helliconia Spring”, Brian W. Aldiss, 1982]

The problem is I have somehow become infected.

Like the inhabitants of Helliconia I undergo metamorphosis at the seasonal changes.  Currently I’m down with The Bone Fever.  I have consumed between 1000 and 1200 calories every 24 hours and exercised to stretch my bones religiously for the past month.  Clothes that were tight are now loose.  My environment warms and I no longer feel compelled to sleep in 3 pairs of pants and a wool hat.  I’m not the man I was.   I’m not the man I will be again after next november when The Fat Death once again overtakes me and alters my frame.  Then I will eat whole two pound cans of Deluxe Mixed Nuts (No Peanuts) and thousands and thousands of calories at one sitting.  Around and around it goes, year after year I suffer changes.

So, I was at the supermarket just looking around today, you know.   I do that a lot this time of year.  I just walk and look at everything.  I “window shop” the food, so to speak.  That’s when I came across the Savoy Cabbage.  I couldn’t help picking it up and fondling it.  It’s texture was absolutely magnificent.  It was one of those magical moments when, for a little while, you feel connected to everything else there is.  I hung out with the vegetables and was one with a particular cabbage for quite some time.  The leeks were something else too, but, something entirely different.

There were other things… dark things that were not food, but, pretended to be food.  Many of them were from the planet Kraft where the evil ones torture the byproducts of petroleum distillation into things that can masquerade as eatable… and the fructologists, in their foul laboratories, disguising corn sugar as many different kinds of love.   Then there was fruit and bread and I sailed round like a pilgrim in search of a safe port.  Frozen vegetables… meats… cheeses and other dairy.   These waters were well known to me.

I remembered that the cat needed food.  Ham was on sale, so, I purchased one pound.  I told the nice lady at the Deli that I wanted it cut as thin as humanly possible.  She was new.  She was unaccustomed to my requirements with regard to sliced meats.  She cut a test piece of ham and held it up for me to examine.  She said:  “Is this thin enough?”

I replied …no.  I don’t think you understand.  I like to read my newspaper through the slices of ham.  You will know it is sliced to the proper thickness if you sneeze and half of it blows away.  A pound should make a pile almost as large as a compact automobile…. Like a volkswagen.  That’s how you will know you have it about right….

She cut the ham, and I carried it and the cat food home… thereupon I drank wine, and in the fullness of time, I went to my studio, and I made me a collage.

Then I took a nap…  and in my dreams I was a Savoy Cabbage in an endless field of Savoy Cabbages all dreaming sweet chlorophyl dreams.

I awoke soaking wet.  Perhaps my fever has broken…   again.






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