The butterfly bushes in the garden bow right down to the ground under the thick dollops of snow that cling to them. The tray feeder was eight inches under this morning: not even the most determined bird could have burrowed into it without a little help from her friends, and we were happy to give it. At times like these, species must stick together across party lines.
We will need our birds, after all, when spring comes, and not just because we find them beautiful. With the bees, they are our most important pollinators: I can trace the unexpected volunteer presence of two fig trees, three butterfly bushes, countless tomato plants and this year's Christmas tree directly to bird poop, and that is just in our garden -- who is to say what riches they have bestowed on all our neighbors?
Right now is none too soon to start some seeds indoors by a window -- basil, maybe some nice parsley, and tomatoes. Some of them want light in order to germinate, but most of them some don't care if they have it or not at this stage. They don't even need air. Just some water and some warmth, and the mysterious chain of chemical events begins within the shell of the seed, a process which will fire the tiny black speck into a gradual but thunderous transformation which, as John Donne observed in a sermon once, we would call a miracle if we saw it happen once but consider normal because it happens all the time.
There is nothing that God hath established in a constant course of
nature, and which therefore is done every day, but would seem a
Miracle, and exercise our admiration, if it were done but once.
Sermon, 25 March 1627
They become more demanding as soon as the first tiny pair of leaves appear -- they'll do anything for light and water, and reward the provision of those two necessaries with growth so fast that there are times when I think I can see it happen.
The thought of all this is invigorating, and I have stood in want of invigoration of late. A wretched cold has taken away my voice and all my energy -- I, so proud of my early arising, lay abed until nearly noon today, and found baking a batch of cookies and a simple ragout of eggplant so taxing that I've taken to the the couch to recover from the strain. I have been virtually motionless for days, and mentally sluggish as well -- this is measurable in direct proportion to the number of Scrabble games played on my iPhone. Always, this worries me: how do I know that I, the energetic I of yore, will ever come back? What if I just play Scrabble for the rest of my life? And never write another word?
But now something stirs within me, as something must stir within the seeming deadness of a seed when the time is right. I won't play Scrabble for decades. I will write again. I'm still in here.
And you may have my cookie recipe.
Mocha Nugget Drops
In a large-ish saucepan, melt together
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 chopped bittersweet chocolate (or use semisweet bits)
Add 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
Cool for five minutes or so.
Stir in 2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a separate bowl, whisk together
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Mix in 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
Drop by teaspoons onto parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake ten minutes at 350 F.
Visit the websites listed for details on these upcoming events with Barbara Crafton in 2010.
Feb 22-23 Calvary Church, Memphis. TN
Barbara Crafton visits for Calvary's Lenten Preaching Series. Visit www.calvarymemphis.org
Feb 27 St. Peter' Episcopal Church, Bay Shore, LI (NY)
Back in time for British Invasion Tribute Haiti Benefit concert!
Benefits ER&D! www.forumtheatreartscenter.com
March 2-3 Caroline Church, Stony Brook, LI (NY)
March 5-6 Kanuga Retreat with Holy Trinity, Clemson
March 13-14 St. Matthew's and St. Luke's, Evanston, IL
St. Luke's 847-475-3630 St. Matthews 847.869.4850
Mar 19-20 Quiet Day at St James Spiritual Center, Greenville, SC http://saintjamescenter.org/BCCQuietDay.html.
March 25, Feast of the Annunciation. St Ignatius, NYC
Saturday, March 27 National Cathedral, Washington, DC
www.nationalcathedral.org, click on "congregation" and then "formation."
April 10 Song and Story: A Noisy Day at Church of the Holy Trinity, NYC
w/Ana Hernandez & Barbara Crafton geraniumfarm.org or anahermusic.com
April 17 Two mini- retreats at St. Thomas,. Whitemarsh PA
April 22-24 Daughters of the King, Diocese of San Joaquin, CA
June 11-13 Companions of the Holy Cross, Adelynrood, Byfield, MA www.adelynrood.org.
July 17 Sisters of St. Margaret Patronal Festival, Boston
September 17-19 Quiet Day at Good Shepherd, Raleigh NC
October 1-3 Diocese of West Missouri ECW
October 8-10 The Falls Church, Falls Church VA
October 17-19 Interfaith Power and Light Conference at Kanuga, Hendersonville, NC www.interfaithpowerandlight.org
December 5-6 Grace Church, Camden, SC
December 12 Church of the Ascension,Montgomery, AL