Thursday, February 6, 2014
Table for One
As convivial a soul as James Beard was, even he once said:
"Somehow I never minded dining alone.
Instead, I find it is a rare opportunity
for relaxing and collecting my senses,
and I had always made each occasion something of a ceremony.
A nicely set table and time--
these are as important as the food.
I've had that "rare opportunity" of a table for one this week,
a time I had looked forward to--
to call the days my own,
the t.v. remote my own,
and to "collect my senses," you might say.
Wasn't solitude high on my page-long list of "Bliss"?
Didn't one of my author heroes of the past, Agnes Sligh Turnbull,
a domestic goddess of the 1940s and 50s
exalt in the rare solitude in her life?
In addition to crafting bestselling novels,
baking gingerbread, putting up grape jelly,
and turning her old peach negligee into an evening jacket for her daughter,
she believed that the "inner core of aloneness is not something to hide from
but a blessing to treasure."
I also remember reading Louis Bromfield's 1942 novel Mrs. Parkington
when I still had children at home, thinking that, like her,
when I was older I would carve out chunks of time for solitude.
"Solitude was the most precious thing in the world
if you knew how to employ it.
It built up your endurance,
and permitted you to see yourself coldly,
with all your faults and virtues;
it allowed you to get some perspective on things."
(from Mrs. Parkington by Louis Bromfield)
So why has my Table for One lost its allure so quickly this week?
Where is that endurance that was supposed to be built up?
Enough of seeing myself coldly, faults and virtues!
Some things are blissful only when they're rare--
like Spring flowers--and a table for one.
A table for two is beginning to sound…blissful!