Tuesday, May 26, 2009


This blog was originally named "GATHERINGS," as was the little book I compiled for family a couple of years ago, but though I registered the name with Blogger more than a year before I posted the first post, the name was already taken by a lovely woman whose posts I rarely miss.

So this became "LAWN TEA," for a discussion I'd been having with an online friend, about the charms of a Southern Lawn Tea, with the lawn green and manicured, and the tablecloths crisply pressed, and the guests in languid clothes sandal-stepping from one beautifully-appointed table to the next, for dainty sandwiches and cake and tea (more often punchbowls and pitchers with ice and lemon and other lovely flavors).

And I've planned one for the past two years, mostly to celebrate the birthday of my dear neighbor, a lovely woman who, along with the biggest-best-tree-for-miles, was one of the deciding factors in our buying this house. She and I would talk over the back gate when we came again and again to tour the premises, and I knew, as my Mammaw said of particularly likeable and pleasant people, "I could NEIGHBOR with her."

So, in my innocent ignorance of things-to-come, including a most uncomfortable hospitalization with a kidney stone, I musingly wrote the following post into an online journal in Spring of 2007:

There IS a lawn tea in our future---deciding between the 4th and 11th of August. We have a baby coming the end of August, and house guests for Labor Day, with whom we're going up to Amish Acres for a few days. I prink away my time trying to get this ole knee in shape, writing little lists of chairs and how many per table; when to polish the silver, how many bud vases will be necessary, and should we put one of the new outdoor carpets actually ON the bare ground of the rain-never-falls-there arbor, for nestling a table for four into the whispery shade.

The little arcanities and logistics of so inconsequential a thing occupy my mind as my big yellow gloves sweep dishes through the Dawn, as I fold endless T-shirts smelling of Bounce, as I snip wee dry bits from the already-pruned arbor trees.

I went out there this morning, first cup in hand, intending to sit a languid while in the dancy sunbeams through the leaves, but carried the big brush to do some grooming on the Adirondacks. They'd all been blessed by the busy birds, and a little dry drift of leaves swished gently from the seats as I moved the brush.

On the little table sat the forgotten little pair of secateurs, left out WAY before the days of rain, but dried with no harm. I reached up, snipped a brittle stick or two, then a few more, then pruned ruthlessly around the big bell, freeing it from all the covering leafness, setting its brassy shine into the morning sun. I was stepping carefully, mindful of my creaky knee, spreading those sweepy limbs out on the mossy ground all around my feet.

It went on and on, coffee forgotten, sun moving round to illuminate a set of perfectly-round spiderwebs, three in all, each suspended from a greater netting woven between the leafless branches of a tall fence-shrub, the whole tapestry worthy of the Best-In-Show Purple at the State Fair, prettier than Auntie B's prize tatting. I clipped and dropped and moved back, squinting for a better take on the process, seeking out tiny bits of wispy brown amongst the layers of green. It was the most restful, the most peacefully wonderful meditative time, with hardly a sound to the world save the leaf-rustles and the easy dropping of new-cut twigs.

And as I came in for a second cup, the tiny clusters of wild grapes on the vines climbing all up to the roof of the garage shone purple in the sun. I walked in to be greeted by a smiling Chris: "How 'bout I take you to breakfast?"

I don't know if ANY party gets better than this morning was
x x x
And soon, the pink tablecloths, the silver trays, the Old Family Recipe for Chicken Salad will be brought out and arrayed on the lawn, and friends and family will step happily past the mintbed to the brimming bowls and doilied trays.

It's going to happen. I need this hyacinth for my soul.


Southern Lady said...

Rachel, your beautiful and gracious way with words never ceases to amaze and awe me. I love your stories and the pictures you create with your words. You are truly a very talented artist.

Tonja said...

I consider it a blessed day indeed when I got the first e-mail from you concerning 'Gatherings'. Since then, I have fallen in love with your beautiful way with words. I do not know if I have ever been able to so clearly 'see' what someone is writing about than when I read the words you pen. You give me a chance to pause and go with you on your journeys, whether they be to the back yard or further away. I enjoy our time together, and I thank you for the lovely 'pictures' you paint for me.
Have a blessed day.

racheld said...

AWWWW, My Two G.R.I.T.S. Girls!!! You say the sweetest things. When I had all that coughing spell going on, I couldn't get a THOUGHT into any order, let alone words written down.

I'm WAY better, and just meet each day with a new sense of wonder and bright prospects.

I just wish I knew how TO put real pictures on here---Chris showed me once, and I wrote it down step-by-step, and it covered more than a page---and you two do it every day, a dozen or more pictures at a time!!! I'm the one in awe of all that arrangement and collecting and getting things just so.

Thank you both.

kouign aman said...

Good morning ma'am.
We had our first 'event' of the summer. Not so elegant as your teas, but sharing in the tables and umbrellas on the lawn. Here, the arbor is of bougainvilla (sp?), and sheds hot magenta blossoms on everything, like butterfly confetti.
A small horde of children, from age 2 - 8, swept the place like tornados, as their parents sat, nibbled, chatted, and kept only a well tuned ear on duty. I thought of you, when we put out the tables.

racheld said...

AWWWWW, Sweetpea!!!

Butterfly confetti!!! I'll take that as a bright image for a long time. How lovely a party, and it sounds as fun and welcoming and charming as any gathering I've ever seen.

That's one thing I loved about catering---we got to share in so many memorable, happy times. It's lovely to be thought of on wonderful occasions.