A Simple Morning: A Meditation on Chores

I remember hating chores. As a slender, small only child, dish washing was my most usual chore – even though I grew up on a dairy farm. Dress it up however you must, if people eat food, dishes must be washed. After several adult years avoiding dishwashing as often as possible, I came to the realization: it really isn’t that bad.

Dish washing is a quiet chore. It can be a time to set your mind in order, to plan the day ahead, and to get ready or clean up after breakfast.

Why dishwashing and breakfast on a page about gardening? Because gardening and washing dishes are two ends of the same process. As I look at my breakfast of two fried eggs, buttery toast and tea, I know that somewhere, somewhen, somebody labored to bring my food to me.

Chickens ate grain or pellets, eggs were gathered, washed, placed in cartons and shipped. Grain was planted, harvested, transported, milled into flour, and the flour shipped to a bakery. At the bakery, it was probably mixed and molded by machines, but someone had to supervise those machines. The bread was then packaged, shipped to the grocery store and shelved. My tea, although I know very little about growing and harvesting tea, must have undergone a similar process. At the store, I selected these items out of hundreds of others, and took them to the checkout where a clerk rang up my purchases and collected legal tender for these items.

Photo credit: Infomastern via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

But what does this have to do with gardening? This type of farm merchandising is the big end of the gardening scale. Without the workers who planted, reaped, milled and processed this food, my breakfast would be much smaller. I am currently a city dweller. I cannot have chickens in my backyard – as per city ordinance. I cannot grow wheat, because I would have to seed my whole yard with it, and the stuff would certainly grow more than three inches tall. Tea doesn’t even grow in my region – hence my ignorance of how it grows, is harvested and processed. I am grateful to the many hands that prepared this food. I appreciate the mill workers who created the pans in which I cook. I honor the electrical engineers and linemen who brave the elements twelve months of the year to keep the power lines up and the energy zinging along them so that I can have heat at the turn of a button to fry my eggs and brown my toast.

I can’t make any of those things – but I love making, and I love growing green things.

After breakfast, I take my Kindle Fire, my favorite tech toy, out to the garden and record the day’s progress. Spring is here, and the many hours I spend each week in my garden and yard are starting to pay off. Here, among the brown leaf mulch that I have left on to protect it from frost, my chocolate mint is putting up fresh new leaves. There is nothing like a cup of chocolate mint tea – it is like a peppermint patty in a cup.

On up the garden path, the shamrocks are putting up their purple leaves – a splash of color against spring green of weeds that need to be pulled. In the early garden bed, snow peas, lettuces, and kale are lifting up their primary leaves to the morning sun.

The sun shines warm on my back as I snap pictures of my baby plants. The grass is wet from recent rains – too wet to weed or mow, so today will be a writing day, at least until afternoon.

The Sweet Williams are putting up a brave bit of color, and the red bud tree is in glorious full bloom. I’ve done some pruning here, but much more needs to be done. Grape vines and bougainvillea will take the place on this side of the house if I don’t get my loppers in gear.

Oh, now here is a sight that is a treat. The yucca plant is putting up fresh bloom stalks! This xeriscape plant goes well on the north side of the house, along with the day lilies and irises.

The elephant garlic is growing tall – and looks as if it might need separated. It protects the red rose bush that soon will bud and share its beautiful splash of color and lovely aroma

Let’s not forget my springtime prize: the white and pink azaleas in front of the house. The white bush is full of beautiful blooms this morning, and the pink one is budding out. There is always so much work to be done around a home – even in the suburbs. The grass needs mowed, beds need weeded – and, of course, there are always dishes to be washed. But these blooms give me hope. They are the reward for what I do – as are the snugs and love from my dog, Ebony, and my nine cats. Their kennel is the one place that will not get mowed by me. It is planted with oat grass that makes a mini-jungle for them.

Thank you, world, for a gorgeous morning. Whatever comes this day, my soul is full, my mind is clear, my body is nourished. Thank you, workers who helped me make my breakfast, thank you for the work of your hands. Thank you, sun; thank you, rain; thank you, birds, for a morning song. Thank you, orange study cat for snugs and buzzes (please don’t step on the “escape” key). My meditation is done, and I am ready for the day.

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Ona Jo Bass
 

Ona Jo Bass grew up on a small farm in the middle of Missouri. She currently lives in a small town – still in Missouri – where she writes, gardens, enjoys her cats, dog and grandchildren.

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