Jasmine gelato, gelato di gelsomino. I read about it in "Midnight in Sicily"; searched Sicily for it before lighting on it in a gelateria in Trapani; Michael-my-ex got a recipe for it on the net and makes it every year. Except this year he was sad for he had no jasmine flowers.
I jog, I sweat, I negotiate busy roads, I keep an eye out for jasminum polyanthum. Not just any - they must be almost in full bloom, large, and hidden. There's one in Forest Lodge: front fence on a busy road - too open. Here's another in a garden on a quiet lane-way in Annandale - bit small, may do in a pinch. This one on an overgrown bank below some flats, on the same lane - perfect.
Next Sunday morning, just after six, I take my shopping bags and scissors, and head to Annandale in my car. On the way I see more jasmine, in Camperdown: a front corner fence hidden by bushes. Is it too out-in-the-open? Does that old man going for a walk suspect what I'm up to? I do U-turns and crawl along the street, and cross the intersection again, looking for a place to park that's close (for a quick get-away), when I see the perfect froth of jasmine, cascading over a back fence in a quiet lane. I boldly stand there, snipping off full heavy bunches of the flowers but I find using my fingers is easier. No time for plucking single unbruised blossoms - I grasp the blossoms with my fingers and drag them off the vine.
I wonder if I have enough, and hope I can get some more out West, where I am heading to visit my Dad. Maybe Rookwood, that vast glorious necropolis, might have some. Maybe around my old suburb, though so many of the old weatherboard bungalows and their gardens have gone. Maybe if I can find no more, what I have will be enough?
But on my way out west I pass the biggest bank of the stuff I have ever seen - on a busy road out the front of some flats in Stanmore.
I stop. I am bold. I also calculate that the traffic goes by too quickly to take an interest, and that people in the flats are still asleep. Plus there is so much. Pluck, pluck, pluck. My hands are sticky with flower-dew and my car smells like heaven.
Later that day I got to Michael's and surprise him with my mornings work. "Yay!" He is so happy - he'd given up hope of jasmine gelato this year. I plan my next hunt...