Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tea Time

It’s 2:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The dazzling sun dipping in the southwest is beaming through the Venetian blinds making my eyes blink. Today’s newspaper and the week’s unread magazines and journals are piled upon the kitchen table. We’re clad in our comfortable lounging clothes awaiting the arrival of our guests for tea. Meanwhile the kitchen is humming with activity and pregnant with appetizing smells, mostly garlic and rosemary. His Lordship is hard at work preparing lemon/lime hummus and a sauce Créole.

For tea we’re having chamomile, catnip calendula, orange peel, a “fresh floral herb blend” which, the package promises, will enable me to take charge of PMS and also help to quiet small children.

It isn’t often I have the privilege of relaxing on a Saturday afternoon. Customarily Saturday is strictly a day of chores, a day which usually prolongs itself into the late afternoon from early morning with wearing effect. Perhaps it helps that this morning we were both out of bed and sitting at our respective computers at 2:45 a.m. By nine o’clock we were fully in gear and on the road. By ten o’clock we had completed the grocery shopping. By noon we had finished lunch at The Good Food Company. And by one o’clock we were back home and unloading our provisions. I am not feeling guilty (as normally I would) about not having taken a walk or any other form of exercise. I am recouping from what was a serious but apparently short-lived flue yesterday. While it is for me astonishing that I should be able to bounce back so quickly, I admit that my strength is not yet fully recovered. The prescription is to lie low.

During this unaccustomed leisure I have occupied myself by answering a charged email from my cousin who was inspired to share with me her latest romantic journey. I have also tinkered on the piano, another infrequent but welcome break.

It is common knowledge that one’s physical health and mental health are regularly coupled. I confess that my physical rebound is due in no small part to the alleviation of some much unwanted mental stress endured over the past couple of days. The cause of my anguish was having struck a racoon while driving my automobile, admittedly not a large concern in most views of the world. As much as I regret what must certainly have been the finish of the racoon, the outstanding feature for me is that its collision with my automobile busted the right front fender. More to the point, the car was only eight hours old. I had just picked it up from the dealer at noon that day, and as I returned home from the car wash at eight o’clock that night the racoon decided to enter the road stage left at precisely the wrong time. Upon becoming aware of its unanticipated movement in my headlights, I first observed what an abnormally large animal it was, then I tried to brake, but we intersected at the outer limit of the vehicle. There was a palpable crack upon contact. I mistakenly assumed there would only be loss of the racoon. However a subsequent examination of the vehicle in the garage disclosed considerable damage. That racoon was the size of a pig!

No doubt you are familiar with the proverb that things happen in threes. This has been an odd year of automotive history for me. Without going into all the superfluous details which are immaterial to this particular thesis, I bought another car eight months earlier. Eight weeks after I had purchased it, I backed into a vehicle while exiting my office parking spot causing significant injury to the left rear fender. Eight months later and eight hours after having bought another new car I dinged the right front fender. Thomas Hardy, where are you!

The uplifting part of this otherwise dark story is thanks to the decency of my insurance agent at Wawanesa Mutual and the good people at Capital Collision. Since they had both babied me through a similar experience eight months ago I was permitted a degree of indulgence, specifically the equivalent of “Poor you!” To be perfectly frank the other mitigating feature of this particular misadventure was the news that, since the loss was occasioned by a collision with an animal, there was only a $100 deductible.

Hearing the story as I have recounted it, one could reasonably be allowed to ask what all the concern is about. There is undeniably a deeper more sinister truth of the matter. In fact there are two lessons which flow from this incident.

First and foremost the unadulterated affection for things material is inherently destined for disappointment. The quality of perfection which one ascribes to anything new is only metaphorical and abstract, an image which lives ephemerally in one’s mind. I remember years ago hearing from a young car salesman that the first thing you do with a new car is beat it with a baseball bat and drive it through a barbed wire fence. Not bad for some home-grown counsel!

Second the distress which accompanies such incidents is invariably less calamitous than it first appears. With the assistance of well-meaning professionals it is actually possible to restore one’s integrity. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

The doorbell has rung. It is time for tea!

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