In Praise of Indolence

I’m sure there must be some quasi-official name for that period of time during which a business or individual is busiest, but I’m afraid my pollen-stoppered brain can’t access it from the data files.

Nonetheless, whatever you want to call that insanely busy period — the crunch, being in the weeds, being slammed — we’re currently in the thick of motherhood’s version of it. There’re three short weeks until school’s out — the calendar is jam-packed with school assemblies final projects field days teacher appreciation recitals, and… you get the picture. In addition to all that, of course, is the knowledge that adult life, what little of it a stay-at-home-mom possesses, ends on that last day of school. Oh, and don’t forget all those people who conspired to conceive offspring nine months ago so that every single weekend from the end of March until the end of May includes a birthday party.*

In short, there’s much to do. But last Saturday night, I was walking through our breakfast room, past the bookended cookbooks on the china cabinet and one I’d never given a single whiff of thought to, one I’d never even cracked open, caught my eye.

Friends from Liverpool gave it to us as a sort of thank-you present about this time four years ago, when they stayed with us after a trip to Savannah. Where, it was clear they’d found the cookbook — there was something so Savannah-fied about it.

Maybe it was the blue and white crockery on the table photographed on the cover of it, the lace tablecloth that draped the same, or maybe it was that title The Great Tea Rooms of Britain — we thanked them politely and set it aside.

But a week ago I walked past it and thought: scones and clotted cream! Cucumber sandwiches! Dining al fresco! I wanted them.

Oh, we have everything right at the tips of our fingers here in the big city. I don’t even have to make scones — I can buy them. Clotted cream, a substance an American wouldn’t have even heard of two or three decades ago, is in our local Kroger, for god’s sake.

And so, Sunday afternoon, I baked, I arranged. We sat outside at a a wrought iron table positioned in the newly-greened shade under the sweet gum tree in our backyard and ate and ate. Terrible food! So full of calories, so rich.

The Sunday New York Times — paper version, mind you, not bits and bytes — sat on the table. We drank milky iced coffee, glass after glass (at least the adults; the younger set was happy with lemonade).

And then we pulled out the croquet set bought years ago on a wild hair and not used since a previous attempt (offspring too young for games) left them throwing croquet balls at each other.

We played all afternoon. For hours.

It had no point.

What was it I really wanted to eat up with this April tea party?

Leisure. Doing nothing, for no reason.

It felt white-lawned, slightly decadent, as if around the corner the tumbrels were rumbling toward the guillotine or World War I was brewing.

But it was also luscious, our lazy afternoon.

*It’s strange, and comforting, and strangely comforting, to meditate on the seasons. This blog has been part of my life long enough that the self-same topic has already been discussed once, here.


  1. I loved the tea party we had a few weeks ago; the cucumber sandwiches! the scones and clotted cream! All the leisurely talking. Adding outdoors with croquet sounds positively AWESOME.

  2. Yeah, the croquet was the cherry on top… those Edwardians were on to something!

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