A person can show his religion as much in measuring onions as he can in singing Glory Hallelujah.
A walk to the end of her street provides a view of an Amish neighbor’s farm. The Lady of-the-House likes to view the progress of their large gardens. They are a big family - generations living together - and use their land (with big horses) in a big way. Agriculture is their livelihood. The Lady-of-the-House keeps a couple organic tomato plants, a few zucchini, a handful of bell peppers and an assortment of herbs in and around the flowers. She is rewarded with the gift of growing things – even if in a small way.
Chapter Two of Lessons at Blackberry Inn begins with:
Emma’s garden was overflowing with a bumper crop of tomatoes. Ripe tomatoes of all sizes filled every spare bowl, bucket, and nook of the kitchen. We skinned, boiled, and strained these “love apples,” as they were once called, for most of the morning. Perspiration beaded on our faces as the heat in the kitchen rose. The windows let in too little breeze to cool our brows.
The Lady-of-the-House admires the frugal canning activity of a friend - especially when she receives a jar as a gift. Her friend preserves nature’s bounty like her storybook characters. All summer as each fruit (Is the tomato a fruit?) meets its time of ripeness, she puts a carefully chosen recipe to work, turning it into sparkling bottles of delicious preserves for her family.
In this photograph, taken last month by the Man-of-the-House, one enterprising mother’s bottles are for sale.
Like her character Carol, the Lady-of-the House is fabulously fond a ripe tomato. Can you tell?
Next [Emma] sliced some bread and the biggest reddest tomatoes that had been set aside for our tomato sandwiches. One thick slice made a perfect sandwich. Piling the hot corn, buttered and salted, and the sandwiches on plates, we joined the children outside to eat.
“Nothing is redder than a ripe tomato,” I said after a juicy swallow.
“I think the tomato sandwich is my favorite,” said Emma.
In August tomatoes big and small hold a place of beauty and taste for the Lady-of-the-House. These three ripe, organic, crimson beauties were purchased at a farm stand. They are grown in a large greenhouse that seems an acre in length.
This summer she only grows grape tomatoes. Two plants are providing an on going supply.
Grape tomatoes are just the right size for snacking on like grapes, cutting in half to add to an olive-and-basil pasta salad, or for dotting a broccoli quiche.
Sometimes the Lady-of-the-House will make a tidy breakfast quiche or two a day ahead when overnight company is anticipated (like today).
When newly married, she used to dream of her ideal herb garden - an expansive Colonial garden divided by a pebbled footpath, housed inside a quaint picket fence, with a gate that closed on its own by a weighted chord – in historical style. Out her kitchen door are a few fragrant herbs – not a museum garden. But she is satisfied.
Like the thyme some are in pots.
Like the oregano some are tucked in among the flowers.
She is happy - although the broken pot of sweet basil is too shabby to be chic.
Do you see the china teacup among the tall daisies? It is secured on a copper pipe. When this whimsical ornament fills with rainwater thirsty flying creatures visit it. It seems to have the added benefit of being an unsuspecting Japanese beetle trap. (More beetles – not pictured- met their demise inside the cup).
She bought her garden cup at Main Street Manor B & B in Flemington, New Jersey. Donna’s father makes them. Donna more charitably keeps birdseed in hers.
The garden teacup is a little touch but it makes a difference to the Lady-of-the-House. When she spies it through her front window or passes it when walking to the mailbox she is reminded to “sit for a bit.”
Sometimes she feels silly when she compares big things to her little things. Then she remembers that little things have a place, too, because they can make a big difference.
Importantly, little kindnesses, little gestures, little courtesies, tact and attentiveness, in relationships, make a big difference in the atmosphere of home. We cannot know which big things - or which of the myriad of little things we mothers do - will have the most meaningful or lasting affect. Never mind. Day-by-day, in good faith we “measure our onions” in our work and in our relationships - to God’s glory. And entrust Him with the outcome.
Benjamin West, “The Father of American Painting,” the 10th child in a Quaker family said, “A kiss from my mother made me a painter.”
I marvel at his tribute.
Until next time,