07 February 2009

Guess who's coming to Supper/Dinner/Lunch/Not-Lunch

To help us get through the interminable nonsense that is FARCH (the seemingly endless ordeal of February March), our friend VP of Veg-Plotting fame has suggested we have a garden themed dinner-party. We may invite 3 to 5 garden or nature oriented persons, past, present or fictional, and explain the wherefores and whys of our invites.

Before I go into my raisons d'etre, we need a little dissertation on the naming of meals in the Maritimes. Here, we have breakfast at the normal hours of the day. The noontime meal tends to be called dinner by rural people, who traditionally ate their main meal at noon to help get them through the rest of their day's labours. My grandparents always called it dinner, and we still do too. Then the meal that we have at evening is called supper (although some call that dinner), and traditionally was lighter fare, although most of us eat our main meal at suppertime (except on Sundays when many of us have Sunday Dinner at noonish, of course). And if you go to a party or a dance or other function in the evening, about halfway through there will be a meal or snack which is called a lunch, and might be held as late as midnight. (Confused yet? Let me tell you about yards, dooryards and driveways sometime.) I'm quite sure Miss Manners would take complete umbrage at any of this.

Naturally, because I live in the Annapolis Valley, heart of apple-growing country, I will have to borrow my mother's set of Royal Albert Blossom Time China for the event. She actually worked for the man who had this china designed; here's the story of its origins:

"On a spring morning in 1933, G. R. Palmeter left a meeting of the Apple Blossom Committee at the Cornwallis Inn to purchase china from a representative of the Royal Albert China of England. While there, he asked the salesman about creating a pattern called "Blossom Time", to tie in with the Apple Blossom Festival. A design was submitted and the factory got to work on it.
The design is an actual picture of the Ralph Eaton farm, in the Annapolis Valley - the apple trees were at the height of bloom, and this worked out ideally, from the factory standpoint.
The result was "BLOSSOM TIME CHINA", which is still in great demand all over the world, even as far as Japan – this over a period of sixty years.
The original shape of the plate was square and the factory later tried a round one but it was not well received. The mugs have changed shape and the bowl and milk pitcher have been discontinued. Other pieces i.e. a trivet have recently been added."

So who would I invite to Sunflower Hill for this event? I'd love to throw it open to all those bloggers I faithfully read across the miles and the countries and continents, but I'm not good at large group meals, since our family is quite small and our holiday meals are my sister and her husband, our mother, my longsuffering spouse and I, and my son. So that's the max I could handle without a complete meltdown. Rest assured you'd all be welcome to visit at any time, but for now, my invitees are:

Kylee of Our Little Acre. Kylee was one of the very first garden bloggers I started to read regularly, and I consider her a dear friend across the miles. Her posts are invariably uplifting and fun, plus of course she loves cats and gardens. We WILL get to meet one of these days, probably when we both least expect.

Timothy Findley. This Canadian author was the subject of my Masters Thesis, and it gives some indication of how wonderful a writer he was that I STILL love his work. He lived for many years with his partner William Whitehead at a farm called Stone Orchard in Cannington, Ontario, and had many cats as companions. Both Tiff and Bill loved to garden as well as loved animals, and they were delightful individuals. Tiff died in 2002 and I planted a rose in the memory garden for him; then, fearing he would be lonely, I planted one for Bill right beside his (Bill is still very much alive).

Christopher Lloyd. I know he's on other gardeners' invite lists, but since the dear man passed away three years ago last month, I suspect he can get from one abode to the next with minimal problem. I harbour a longsimmering desire to visit Great Dixter, as do many others. One day I hopefully will get there, hopefully before I'm as old as Christo was when he passed on. He was crotchety, did not suffer fools or sycophants, loved to push boundaries and adored plants of all sorts. He was my second hort hero. My first was...

Dr. Albert E. (Doc) Roland. Doc taught botany at my first alma mater, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College for many years, and also wrote the definitive book on our provincial plants, The Flora of Nova Scotia. He was definitely my first hort-hero; I could bring him in a shred of a pistil of a plant I'd scrounged somewhere in the woods or meadows around the county, and he could identify it down to subspecies and variety. Even the asters, which drove most of us crazy. He was a fount of knowledge, a generous soul, a true plantsman and gardener and a damn fine chess player to boot.

Margaret Atwood. (I have two degrees in English, specializing in Can Lit, and minoring in biology. Does it show?) Ms. Atwood is the Queen of CanLit, of course, but she's also a pretty mean gardener and a highly enthusiastic green-advocate. I interviewed her a few years ago, and she had just been to Hay-on-Wye and seen Al Gore's presentation of An Inconvenient Truth--the very first, I believe--and spoke enthusiastically of it. She's been involved with Bullfrog Power in Ontario, and also with the Fatal Light Awareness Program to reduce bird deaths from night-lit skyscrapers in cities. I like my writers with a conscience for other living creatures.

I don't particularly enjoy cooking but under duress I can produce some pretty good offerings. One of the things we will dine on will be my fiddlehead and shrimp salad, which I served to my foodie-friend and fellow gardener Charmian Christie when she came to visit last spring. That day we toured several of the local wineries, and of course this dinner will include wines from Domaine de Grand Pre and our own Blomidon Estate Winery in Habitant. The Seyval Blanc is exceptionally fine, although I'll probably have to bring in some Bakeapple Wine from Newfoundland as well.

Of course the cats will be dancing attendance and I suspect there may be no small amount of hilarity as the evening unwinds. Instead of the Dormouse ending up in the teapot, it will likely be Mungus. But a good time shall be had by all.


  1. Delighted you're feeling up to entertaining, jodi! To know Kylee is to love her, a beautiful first choice. And Margaret Atwood another ... THE BLIND ASSASSIN still haunts me as a writer (oh to be there one day). I'd love to taste your Fiddlehead and Shrimp salad and swirl a glass of your local wine...(I might be peekin' round the corner).

  2. Jodi - I'm still giggling over your explanation of dinner/supper/lunch :D We have exactly the same over here depending on which part of the country you're from. I have my feet firmly in the dinner at lunchtime camp, but for me supper is teatime!

    And what a grand set of guests you've chosen. I'm loving how this meme is giving an insight into the people who've influenced and help to shape us. Some of yours are unfamiliar to me, but your descriptions make me want to find out more.

    I think we need a garden bloggers day out to Great Dixter because so many people have Christo on their list and/or have said they'd like to go there (including me).

    I've long been an admirer of Margaret Attwood's work, so I'm delighted you've invited her, so I can to her for a while.

    Thanks for playing Jodi - great post as ever. I was thinking of you yesterday and wondering when the dreaded Farch-word might be being muttered down your way. Hopefully your convivial company will help to see you through until spring.

  3. What a delightful dinner party you are hosting. May I be so bold as to ask for an invite? I will help with the dishes,Clean up, anything!
    Always loved Blossom time china,thanks for the story behind the making of them.
    I agree Farch are seemingly endless months.
    Enjoyed my visit.

  4. Perfect dishes for a garden themed party. You'll have a great time. Your name for Feb-Mar is super fun.

  5. What a marvelous gathering Jodi. The china would be just the exclamation point, just beautiful.
    I would love to be the doormouse to hear the conversation.

  6. You need to be more careful posting things on the web.

    Rest assured you'd all be welcome to visit at any time

    I just might have to make you sorry you wrote that and show up in person someday :)

    Hope the flu isn't keeping you down. Farch is a poor time to add a bug to Cabin Fever.

  7. What beautiful china, Jodi! After you explained the history of it, I looked more closely at it--you can certainly see the apple trees in bloom. Growing up with a farm background, we, too, had dinner at noon and supper in the evening. In mid-afternoon there was also lunch, usually tea and sandwiches, which reminds me of high tea, although the farmers would be wearing their overalls instead of fancy waistcoats:)

    I enjoyed your choice of guests--nothing like sharing an evening with people you really admire.

  8. I ACCEPT YOUR INVITATION! Oh goodness, dear Jodi, you do know that this lunch/dinner/supper would run right into breakfast, don't you? So it doesn't matter what you call it. LOL.

    I'm honored you would choose me as one of your five. Rest assured, you'd be one of my five as well. Oh good! TWO meals together! :-)

    Thanks too, for your other choices. To be in the company of such greatness...oh my!

    *hugs and love*

  9. Jodi, such interesting choices. Although you're sending goutweed and snow my way for sticking Ricky Nelson's song in your head (LOL), I am sending you warm breezes to melt the snow. Our weather has been frightfully warm the last few days. It confuses the heck out of the spring bulbs. I love that china, and I'm a china nut. I can see why it is very popular in many other countries. All of us love spring blooms, don't we?~~Dee

  10. Jodi....
    It's all making sense now... Tiff and Christo seemed antsy and hardly touched their food.... they had only to mention that they were stopping off at your party...
    Oh how I laughed with the dinner, supper, lunch discussion. Its definitely something that makes us stop and ponder the power of linguistics. It frightens me that today's generation is letting it all slip through their fingers.
    Weather has been wonderful here, actually have the sun today. Farch be damned! We shall persevere!

  11. What a fine choice of dinner guests Jodi - some of them are strangers to me, so I must find out more. When I was growing up the noontime meal was dinner, the evening meal was tea and supper was a little bite that you might have later, such as a biscuit and a cup of hot milk. As for tea that did not come into the equation. On such crockery any meal would taste fine no matter what time of day or night. I love that word' farch' !

  12. Your dinner guests sound charming, jodi.:) As are your reasons for inviting them.

    I was surprised to read the history of the "Blossom Time" pattern -- one of my friends has service for 12 in this pattern and I had no idea it had been designed locally, though it makes perfect sense. Thanks for that, too! The fiddlehead and shrimp salad recipe sounds divine!

  13. Hello Jodi, lovely to meet you!
    Dinner where I come from is midday if at home and evening if out. I hope that makes sense.
    I was just stunned to see the Blossom Time. I only have one trio and that is it!!!
    Love your cat pics. Do you think they encourage one another?
    Cheers Gillian

  14. Margaret Atwood is an inspired choice, Jodi. It's sending me to my bookshelves right now...

  15. Were you ease dropping at CAPRE the other day?...we had this funny chat about the confusion around dinner, supper, lunch... too funny! I'm happy to learn about the origins of the china design. My grandparents who were passionate gardeners on the West Coast gave me a child sized tea service, in this pattern when I was a toddler and somehow I've made my way to the Annapolis Valley from Vancouver (very indirectly mind you) not realizing that I've treasured something from the Valley my whole life. Chat soon, Shannon

  16. Oh to be a flower in a vase in the middle of your dining table! The conversation would be stellar and goodness such depth! Beauty, too...the flower in the vase ;-) and the lovely table setting! Who wouldn't be impressed with your kitties..they are exceptional.


  17. It sounds like you all would have a wonderful time! I'm not that up on Canadian gardeners & botanists (my bad!), but I'm sure whoever you chose to invite would be interesting & would know their stuff. I do hope it would all be less confusing than the party you pictured at the end of your post. (Twinkle, twinkle little bat, how I wonder what you're at...")

  18. Fascinating! I am not doing this but am enjoying the dinner parties of others. I had always wondered about the history of Royal Albert.

  19. What a great idea to have a little party with fellow garden-enthusiasts. I am always taken with those tea sets and china with botanical themes, yet never buy them because I really don't feel I have enough reason to use them! Someday, maybe I'll get some just to look at and have tea by myself while contemplating formation of garden club! Yes, until I moved to my current location, I hadn't heard of lunch time "dinner". I suppose it is because I never grew up around any farm folk!

  20. The china is lovely, a shame to cover it with food;)

    Your dinner party sounds delightful whether you call it dinner or supper.

  21. Hi Jodi,
    You've submitted a well thought out list. I suspect the conversation around your table would go right from dinner to supper it would be so interesting.

    I can see why that china is still in demand. It must have been very unusual to see that shape when it was first made... but it is splendid!

    I find it most interesting that I happen to have had the pleasure of meeting your number one choice today. How ironic is that? My wish for you is that garden party or not you indeed do have the pleasure of Kylee's company some day. She is a treasure.
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  22. I took one of the plates with me so I could make an arrangement with it. I'll pay you later--put it on my tab.

    I stayed for breakfast, dinner, and supper and let the horse out of the barn. The donkey laughed at such a sight and the cats ran away with the moon.

    BTW--your cats told me to tell you that they want a tree house cat climbing apparatus they saw over at Marnie's place. Something was said about you being stingy with the credit card.

    The party was good and Margaret left her nylons hanging from the rafters.

  23. It will be very interesting to find out whether that group stuck with gardening conversations or put their talents together to figure out how to improve the world!

    The china is lovely, Jodi, especially since it is a family heirloom.

    Growing up we just had breakfast, lunch and supper....to say "dinner" was something we learned from books, movies and TV.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


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