Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Afternoon Tea With Seed Cake

“I don’t believe it, Mother, Seed Cake!  What a treat,” said Alfred, “I haven’t had Seed Cake since we visited Aunt Margaret Moffat in Dumfries last summer.”

            “You can thank Agnes Findlay, our Scottish Housekeeper for that,” said Mother, picking up her Crown Princess Sterling Silver Dessert Fork and taking a bite.  “Well, Alfred, that really is quite tasty.”

            “Talking about Aunt Margaret, Mother, did you know that side of my family were Border Reivers?  For centuries they provided mercenary cavalry for European battles, and when they weren’t doing that they made their living stealing cattle from the English, which, according to them, is an honorable profession.  They were basically Scottish Cattle Rustlers.  When you worry about the Talliaferros, remember that most of us have colorful people in our backgrounds.”

            “Thank you for reminding me, Alfred.  I had quite forgotten the Moffats.  The ones we met on our trip to Scotland were lovely people.”

            “As are many of your Sicilian relatives in this country, Mother.  I will never forget the marvelous family get together we had last year at Assaggios in the Boston North End.  That was quite an evening.  It almost made me wish I was Italian.”

            Mother took another bite of her Seed Cake, and said, “Alfred, this reminds me of Italian Poppy Seed cake, "Torta al papavero".

            “Did you ever consider the mysterious properties of seeds, Mother?  You plant a seed in good soil where the sun can shine upon it.  For days you can’t see what is happening to the seed, but the seed is growing secretly.  Then a little spear of green emerges from the ground and it grows and begins to shoot off little leaves here and there until it becomes a full grown plant.  It’s all rather marvelous when you think about it.”

            Mother eyed Alfred suspiciously, “Are you talking about religion again Alfred?”

            “Yes and no,” Mother, said Alfred. “I read the idea in the Gospels where Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God being planted in our hearts.””

            “Don’t push it, Alfred,” said Mother.  “A little religion goes a long way.”

“I think that the principle applies to a lot of things. When you stop to think about it, advertising works on the same principle,” said Alfred. “In order to sell a product, they first have to plant a seed in you that the product, whether or not you need it, is actually something you can’t do without.  If they can sell you the need for the product, then they can sell you the product.  But let me say, Mother, that in planting the seed of the Kingdom the need is already there; it’s just that it’s hard for us to accept that we can’t do everything on our own.”

“Alfred!” snapped Mother, throwing down her fork, “Give it a rest!”

“Sorry, Mother.  It’s just that I’ve been thinking a lot about how all this applies to me.”

“He put another parable before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.  It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches’" (Matthew 13:31-32).   

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