Peter Rabbit almost ended up in the stewing pot at the MacGregor’s farm. There wasn’t much on our land that missed the soup or stew pot when our children were growing up. My husband had a huge garden and with four children to feed we certainly needed it. I was sitting here eating my homemade soup made from chicken, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, onions and orange pepper and reminiscing about the many soups and stews I have concocted over the almost forty-three years we’ve been married. I loved making them and still do. Soup and stew are the greatest user -uppers of left-overs there are. Everything can go into them and they will usually be delicious as well as filling. I say usually, because we all have had kitchen failures which are evident by the fact that the pot remains full instead of emptying quickly.
I see this as an allegory for our lives and therefore the arts. Everything can go into the pot – love, hate, fear, envy, jealousy, challenge, stress, joy, sorrow, pain and ecstasy. If we don’t feel, we’re not alive. The resultant mix of ingredients is the taste of our characters which can be a rich mixture of experience and wisdom or blunder and bitterness. We find out which by the sort of friends we have made in our lifetime. True friends who rally round in times of trouble or fair-weather friends who only stay as long as our money or drugs or booze or food holds out. In the arts, the mix is good when people come back wanting more, patiently wait out our desert periods and cheer on our best efforts. The audience doesn’t need to be large (although that is more financially rewarding) but appreciative.
When I was young I used to go to the library looking for books with happy endings. Now I certainly want Peter to be saved from the stew, but I don’t mind how near he comes to being caught and I’d rather be in suspense about the ending. I don’t want the stew or soup to be bland. There must be spice, and all kinds of ingredients. What excitement would there have been in “Jane Eyre” if she had simply worked as the tutor and never been visited by the mad woman? Would there have been as many “Sonnets to the Portuguese” if Elizabeth Barrett Browning had been healthy all her life? Not that I wish ill-health on anyone, but if it is one of the ingredients in the soup, it should at least be tempered with some great love, passion or high calling. So I suppose, if we fill our lives with good things, things of substance, then we can look upon the sorrow, mistakes, disappointments and challenges as the spice in our recipe, all culminating in a delicious flavour to be remembered and savoured in our later years. It will be a memoir or novel, painting , play or photo album worthy to be handed on to the next generation. A rich soup or stew worth eating.
I am a pastor/writer/illustrator and I am a happily married grandmother. My passions are drawing, painting, writing and making crafts. I write, edit and publish a magazine for hospice patients, and residents of retirement homes and nursing homes.