Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuesday's Reflection: Rhubarb

A sure sign of late spring and early summer in our house is rhubarb, and much to our delight this house has full, healthy rhubarb plants. That's a good thing, for my mother didn't believe in paying for rhubarb, insisting it is just a weed. Our other homes have always had rhubarb plants, and it was a pleasant surprise to discover rhubarb plants in the tiny alley garden. 

As soon as there was enough to harvest, I made a batch of rhubarb sauce for us and for my father, along with my mom's rhubarb torte. (Recipe follows.) Later I filled a big container with sauce for daughter Kate and her family. Soon I will harvest more and perhaps make a rhubarb coffee cake to have on hand when our son and daughter-in-love are visiting this weekend from Cleveland. 

Rhubarb plants weren't on the "must have" list when we were house hunting, but discovering their presence this spring along with the lilac bushes in the backyard, now beginning to bloom, was   a happy surprise. 

We did have many other requirements on our house list, however, such as a bedroom and bath on the first floor, a double garage, a fireplace, central air conditioning, and a front porch. We did get the bedroom on the first floor, but not the other so called "musts."  I mentioned to a couple friends recently how much I was missing a front porch. We loved the front porch on our home in  Madison. It was private and spacious enough for several chairs and a table where we ate most meals in warm weather. The front porch became office, and library, and dining room for us and guests, and even a playroom when the grands visited. In some ways it was my favorite room in that house, and now that it is front porch season again, I do miss it. 

Both friends immediately asked if we couldn't add a front porch onto this house, and, of course, with enough money and vision and patience, one can do most anything. I do hope we build a double garage and am glad there is space to do that, and we will look into adding central air, even though we know the challenges of doing that in an old house. Yes, I would love a front porch again, but is that how we want to spend time, money, and energy at this stage of our lives? Besides, just because we once had something doesn't mean we have to have it again. 

What an interesting thought for someone who is used to gratification--perhaps, not immediate, but like most of us, I like getting what I want! One aspect of this stage of life, however, is change and change that includes letting go whether it is one's position or relationships, or stuff. I loved having that front porch and am so grateful to have had such a wonderful porch life, but that was then and this is now.

We bought this house in November, which means this is our first spring and summer in the house. With each season we discover more about living here and and what the gifts of life here are. In the winter, even though the sunporch was cold, we loved the light coming through all the windows. We enjoyed the coziness of the lower level where the television is and spent winter evenings hidden from winter winds. Now my husband is delighted with the yard, its good soil and established gardens, giving him room to grow and add his touch. We have adapted to the smaller spaces, including the much smaller kitchen, which now that it is painted and we have new counter tops and backsplash, I really appreciate because it is small and efficient. 

I will adapt to the lack of a front porch as well, for one of the qualities I have worked to develop in myself over the years is adaptability. I don't think of it as settling for something less, but rather a willingness to discover what is good or even better in the present situation, along with being creative and looking at what is with fresh eyes.  In a way discovering one's ability to adapt is a spiritual practice. 

We have moved two chairs under the shade of a lovely tree in the front yard, and it is a pleasant place for chatting with neighbors and for reading, too, although I feel a bit exposed. Perhaps we will add a patio or deck in the back yard, and I will adapt to back yard privacy.  

A front porch was on the desired list, but at the very top of the priority list was location--being close to our daughter and her family--and we got that plus a charming house, which is in excellent condition and the perfect size for our life now. Besides, this house has rhubarb! 

My Rhubarb Torte Recipe--Serves 8
Mix together: 1 cup flour
                       1/2 cup butter
                       5 teaspoons powdered sugar
Pat mixture into a 8x8 pan and bake at 350 degrees.

Beat 2 eggs and add  1 and 1/2 cup sugar and a dash of salt, 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 cups cut up rhubarb and 1/2 cup nuts. Mix together and put over crust. 

Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Yum!

An Invitation
How adaptable are you? What have you needed to adapt to in recent years? What do you miss that was once part of your life, but what have you discovered along the way?  

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