Tomorrow I have some friends coming over to meet other friends in from Ohio. There will be eight of us for dinner and the table outside under the elm will be the site of some long, summer eating and drinking. Vodka infused with pineapple (soaked for a few days) will start us off. Then a nice plate of cheeses and breads, a pasta course of pasta with roasted tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, fresh basil and cream topped with shavings of Parmesan, a cucumber and radish salad and finally some grilled skirt steak or Asian chicken - not decided yet. The bushes around the house are heavy with raspberries and it seems the more I pick the more they produce - so raspberries and vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate and iced coffee to finish.
Summer nights with friends at a long table - what is better in life? My garden is full of produce but only because I tend to it. I weed and pluck and snip and add chicken poo-filled hay from the barn ( big enough for one cow or a dozen chickens but not much more!) My friendships are not so different from my garden. The relationships need tending, weeding, trimming, watering, feeding. Occasionally a plant dies and so too does a friendship. Some plants - though wonderful - are not suited to a certain soil - a certain light and so they die. Similarly, occasionally (only once in my short life - happily!) a friendship must die because it simply was not matched will to its garden. One hope it thrives elsewhere.
Friendships - whether they are in a partnership or simply in a set of close friends, need to be tended or they weaken and die or - worse - live a kind of half-life - pale and sickly and using up garden-space without producing much fruit.
And then there are the plants in the garden which flourish - right now my radishes, my summer squash, and the tomatoes - vines so heavy that they cannot stand up under the weight of the fruit. To let a plant die is sad, but the rest of the garden is so lovely and so rich that the mourning lasts as long as it takes to pluck a tomato, sprinkle it with olive oil, salt and pepper and tuck in with reckless abandon alongside a glass of cold white wine and some smoked oysters in their tin oil and lots of cracked pepper on top!