Monday, August 22, 2011

Lost Art

I may have mentioned once or twice that I am slightly...informal, shall we say?...when it comes to being the perfect hostess. Overnight guests will find clean sheets on the bed and a stack of (possibly mismatched) towels on the guestroom chair. The next morning I pull the cereal boxes out of the cupboard and put them on the kitchen island next to a stack of bowls and a carton of milk.

It's five-star treatment at its best, if by "best" you mean most efficient.

Boy#2 and I stayed with Husband's 85-year-old aunt during our trek back east. A long-retired teacher, Aunt A is the person I want to be when I'm 85, delightful and energetic and up at 0:DarkThirty to fix breakfast. The first morning we had cereal, delicious multi-grain toast and fresh fruit, with a chaser of bracingly strong coffee. The second day Aunt was up early to make omelets, and the final morning's breakfast was the best French toast I have ever eaten topped with homemade walnut syrup.

All of these were served on beautifully matching antique dishes, with no plastic on the table (think butter removed from the tub).

Suddenly I realized I've done my guests no favors by serving a breakfast that is more glorified self-feeder than family meal. The beautiful dishes, the lovingly prepared food, the grace with which it was served--to have gobbled this food with one foot out the door would have been like listening to a Beethoven symphony on 78 rpm. (Oh, yes, I'm old enough to make that reference.)

Instead, we slowed down to appreciate both the food and the cook, and in doing so, better appreciated the day stretching around and ahead  of us.

And when you think of it, isn't this slowing down and reflection the whole point of art, whether the art is a painting or music or the lost art of being a hostess?

Aunt A may be retired from teaching, but she's still teaching me.

No comments:

Post a Comment