When I’m facilitating a meeting or workshop I like to have something on the table for people to munch on, gaze at wistfully or even turn over in their hands.
A small offering helps pass the time during any dull bits and it makes people feel valued as you’ve gone to some effort to think of their needs. Offering sweets or peppermints is easy. This is perhaps why all the corporate venues have the hard, little white rocks.
When I was walking from Grey Lynn to the NGO I was working with on Thursday I wanted to get some plums. A generous big bag.
Being seasonal fruit was really appropriate for the group I was working with, not to mention the health benefits. A colourful addition to the setting I hoped.
At this time of the year plums are falling off the trees. But not so on my route along Karangahape Road. Not a plum tree, nor did the shops stock them.
I stopped looking in little dairies after number five. The fruit on offer was, well, totally insipid. One shop, whose owner had the audacity to list on its signage the promise of fruit and vegetables for sale, stocked a desultory bag of yellowing oranges in a fridge. About seven bananas, 20 apples and a few more oranges was all I saw.
Nor did I see a greengrocer on K Road, though there are plenty of stodgy bakers and greasy take away outlets. Makes sense I guess. Who is going to opt for a peach or plum when they’re out on the town.
Packaged foods with long shelf lives (ie crisps, sweets, nuts, etc), starch and fatty foods make money, but fruit obvioulsy doesn’t. How can it be that the market provides all this, but ready access to plentiful, fresh and healthy fruit is scarce. No wonder we’re facing an obesity epidemic.
Fortunately, even without a bowl of elusive plums the workshop went well.
And in the end I summoned up a gift for the participants. The night before the workshop I stumbled on the replica of the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, created in 1200, at St Columba Church in Surrey Crescent. It’s “a quiet place so that we, who are unable to make long retreats from our busy lives may find refreshment in these small havens of peace.” I thought storing away the idea of a place to step back from the hurly burly of the project (and work as usual) might come in useful.
No plums but maybe something more lasting.
Photo credit: Anushruti RK’s photostream