Garden Party Sunday

It’s 9:05 AM. Garden Party Sunday. I just made my way over to the hall to merrily deliver our contribution to the meal that anchors this first Sunday in August, the cold plate. Branch had a different feel as I drove along this morning, hungrily soaking in the sights and sounds of a community whose landscape simply never gets old. The fog seemed to hang like a curtain over the place this morning; allowing a momentary glimpse of the Gut every now and then as the Southeast wind blew the fog in and out and in again. In response to the quiet weather, the people of Branch seemed to be resting snugly in their warm beds. The cars parked in people’s yards even seemed tired, almost as if they were tilted to one side and ready to fall over. Curtains were drawn. Doors shut. Not even a faint whiff of cabbage or pork roast in the air. I thought of a phrase shared this week by Aiden O’Hara, when describing the fine art of sleeping in “They’re all in the scratcher!” The few signs of life that did emerge popped up like yellow posies on an otherwise green lawn. Patrick appeared, ghost like in his shiny white car leisurely driving across the bridge. A yarry trouter surfaced too, eagerly casting out his line on the back of the beach. And Tom’s horse walked through the dewy meadow, energetically flicking her tail in defiance of the quietness of the morning. So the stage was set. Handy everyone in Branch was in the bunk. Quiet. Sleepy. Sunday morning. Then I walked into the hall. The energy of the morning was different in there. It was like waking out of a candle lit Buddhist temple full of meditating monks and into a techno club full of DJs and dancers. About a dozen dedicated ladies were circling three long tables, each armed with some piece of the cold plate puzzle, lettuce, ham, salads, tomatoes. They reminded me of courtiers at a French ball as they gracefully circled the tables, intent in the task at hand but moving frenetically. As I walked in, a riot of pink and purple in my fleece pyjamas and rubbers, hair knotted into an unruly ponytail on the top of my head and holding a casserole dish of turkey, they stopped. I imagined they were thinking, “She’s some cozy in them pyjamas, God love her” when I heard someone say “Look coming in” which, when translated means “All right for her to get out of the bed!” I gently laid the glass dish of cold sliced turkey next to the others and tried to engage the ladies in chat. They were busy. Mallary entertained me for a few moments while she distributed lettuce to the waiting trays. Knowing that I didn’t want to interfere with their rhythm, I stepped back and simply soaked in the scene. It didn’t take long for the Margaret Meade quote to pop into my head, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” This group of thoughtful, committed women were doing just that this morning as they gave of their early morning energy to create the centre piece of any garden party- the cold plate. We need more of that. The world needs more of that. As I walked out of the hall, feeling so blessed to live in Branch and filing a note in the giant “to do” folder in my head to bake buns for these ladies next August, I heard someone whisper, “I’d say she’s going home now to put bread in the oven”. Comedians as well as community organizers! 

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