Friday, June 7, 2013

ordinary contentment


by Jane Kenyon

Only Mama and I were at home.
We ate tomato sandwiches
with sweeps of mayonnaise
on indifferent white bread.

Surely it was September,
my older brother at school.
The tomatoes were fragrant
and richly red, perhaps the last before frost.

I was alert to the joy of eating
sandwiches alone with Mama, bare
feet braced on the underpinnings
of the abraded kitchen table.

Once, I’d made a mark in the wood
by pressing too hard as I traced
the outline of a horse.

I was no good at drawing — from life,
or from imagination. My brother
was good at it, and I was alert
to that, too.

What is it about tomatoes that evoke so many memories? Especially for me, these heirloom ones - that look so much more real than the usual hothouse ones available all winter. They also taste like tomatoes. And the colours!

                     Easeful air
presses through the screen
with the wild, complex song
of the bird, and I am overcome

by ordinary contentment.
What hurt me so terribly
all my life until this moment?
How I love the small, swiftly
beating heart of the bird
singing in the great maples;
its bright, unequivocal eye.

- Jane Kenyon, from "Having it Out with Melancholy" (very worthwhile to read the whole poem...)

Plants in our container garden are making me happy this week.  The arrival of this bird. Ordinary contentment.

Sat in the backyard one night with a friend. Wine, some cheese, walnuts, cranberries.

Our zone 2 rhododendron is having its best year yet.

The dahlia at the foot of our rickety back porch. (Perhaps next year that will be repaired...)

Yesterday I was awake at 4am, and it was one of those moments when you know it will be impossible to drift back to sleep. I got out of bed, opened my manuscript, wrote, edited. So that by 7am, when it was time to wake up our daughter to get ready for school, I'd already put in some decent work. Waffles were definitely in order.

And so here we are at Friday. And our big weekend begins. Chloe's grade 9 Farewell ceremony/celebration is this evening. So proud of that kid. And Rob's show opens on Saturday in Edmonton at the Douglas Udell Gallery. (If you're in Edmonton, you're very welcome to attend). 


  1. wish I were back in Edmonton -- I would attend. Instead I'm attending Sally Laidlaw's opening this evening.
    I too am smitten with real tomatoes. They evoke many warm memories of my mother, my childhood, and warm summers in Edmonton.

    1. I'll have to google Sally Laidlaw. :) Lovely Edmonton memory, Diane, thanks.

  2. To me tomatoes remind me of my father, we had a little a vegetable garden outside our appartment, it was about 2 kilometers from home and during Spring and summer I remember being there and trying to catch white butterflies while my father picked those delicious tomatoes that we would eat with just a bit of sea salt and olive oil...bliss!!!

    1. I love the image of the white butterflies...

  3. Wonderful to see that the products of your household (paintings / photos / child) had a great showing this weekend. What a great time!

    1. Such a good weekend! Thanks for being there dear Lucy.


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