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.