Sunday, October 12, 2014
Sunday Afternoon Tea - Why Bother?
I walked out to the garden yesterday morning for the first time in weeks. That bug that hit brought with it such fatigue that each day I would think about doing some gardening and then decide to go "tomorrow". Well, one day followed another and before I knew it our temperatures had dipped well into the mid-30s.
So when I walked out yesterday, what was once a flourishing garden looked quite ravaged. The basil that had been so lovely this year was now all marked with frostbite, the mint had long fallen off its' stems, even the kale looked poorly! All gone before I could do anything to harvest it.
But there were unexpected signs of life with a few small tomatoes and even some green beans peeking a bright green behind withered leaves. The golden pineapple sage is ready to "bloom" and the parsley continues to flourish... that is one hardy plant.
So I picked the tomatoes and the green beans and placed them into the well worn basket. I also picked the pole beans which were now completely dry. After rinsing the tomatoes and green beans, I found a fresh tea towel to spread on the kitchen counter, cracked open each dry bean pod, and sprinkled the beans which will be seeds for next year on the towel.
For there is always a sign of new life to come, even in the midst of neglect.
During the days I was feeling quite ill, it was easy to think of giving up completely. I mean why put all that time and attention and limited funds into growing a garden to have to stop during the harvest. I know, I should have had my husband at least pick some tomatoes and green beans but each day I thought I'd feel better... the next.
As an aside... he is not allowed near any herb for he cannot tell herbs from weeds. Just saying.
But these feelings are not limited to the garden. For example, when we first moved to the country and I fixed up the front porch to look cute and cozy... the thought came to me that I should not put so much effort into fixing up the porch. For hardly anyone will even know what it looks like. We do live at the end of a teeny tiny gravel road with three houses. You can't see our house from the road.
So why bother when that work may only be seen by so few?
It is the same feelings I get when I spend money for flowers on the deck each spring. Although we do have visitors and use the deck once in awhile, most of the time it is just one or two of us seeing the flowers out the deck door.
Is it worth the money for just one of us to view while sitting in the Lazy Boy?
These thoughts come when I pretty up the top of the buffet or decorate the hutch or place the veggies in a bowl to look beautiful in the kitchen. They come when I decorate with some some autumnal favorites or cut daffodils each spring to enjoy on our table and in the kitchen.
I no longer have a lot of people that come through the front door so why create Beauty? For just us?
And every single November finds me deciding whether to decorate for Christmas as I once did. After all... I no longer have Christmas parties and most of the Season there are just once again... two people and a cat at home.
So why bother?
Why bake the cake and decorate it beautifully or roast the vegetables until the perfect caramelized color? Why peruse the cookbooks or read the gardening magazine or learn how to save the seeds from the green bean plant?
The garden wilts from inattention and the daffodils die and the Christmas stuff has to be packed again to be put away and the deck flowers are really a lot of work to keep going you know.
Making this fallen world a thing of Beauty can take time and effort and even some of the budget and gosh I'm already tired you know with enough to do each day.
Because if we didn't we would die on the inside. Oh, not immediately but the internal wilting away would become apparent after awhile. It would be like saying our life is over.
We begin a new garden each year because we are made of faith. And hope. We know illness could hit or storms could wipe it all away. We plant the fields of wheat and corn realizing we live where hail and wind and blight can destroy our hard work.
We buy the flowers and plant them in containers and display them through the window in such a way we can see them early in the morning as the sun rises or when we watch the news or while grabbing a sandwich for lunch. And their beauty feeds as much as the food we eat.
We decorate the house to look lovely for after all... we live there. We see it each day. We need to be fed with Beauty. We set the table and light the candles and create an atmosphere of warmth even if there is no company. For who matters more than family?
In the same way, when we are alone we decide not to opt for the teabag but we spoon the good stuff in the small teapot that has been warmed with hot tap water before pouring the water from the whistling teakettle over it. We choose one of our pretty bone china teacups from the shelf and place it on a tray with the little teapot and a small treat. We perform our own little tea ritual for we are made for Beauty.
We bother because every instance we have to choose between getting by and making Beauty, we choose that part of us which is in the image of God. We choose... life.
For you see, the cooking of a lovely meal and the writing of a poem... the planting of bulbs in the autumn for blossoms to enjoy in spring... hanging twinkle lights and listening to Bing Crosby sing White Christmas while making cookies even when no one is expected... putting together our famous veggie beef soup to serve with homemade bread for just us two... it is who we are.
So don't let the world tell you that less than your best is not good enough. You are made by a God who has to make Art and you were his very best creation... and being made in His image, you also must create. However imperfectly in this fallen of worlds for our creations will always fall short of perfection.
Such as a garden which goes unharvested in September. But it was glorious in May and June and July and most of August.
Photo: Flowers in front of a business in South Haven, Michigan.