Almond trees blossom

The TV set is back and alive. We can follow again the normal TV program schedule. Too many things not to be missed! Among them, and outside the sitting room,nature’s seasons program schedule. Its program listing features general rebirth in spring, alpine plants in summer, golden colours in autumn, that clean and tangential light in clear winter days and now, in early march, almond trees blossom.

We went to see them in Penedès vineyard’s, in Sant Sebastià dels Gorgs were we rode our bikes. The day a bit cloudy but providing an interesting light nevertheless. It must have been a cold winter because many trees were still waiting for blossom and it took some pedaling before we could make out, against a background of grey and green fields, the diffuse white clouds made out of the new flowers that, in coming near, become treetop structures and finally in close-up, fragrant pentagonal simetries.

We spent about an hour, looking for and comparing views, like if we were the privileged sole visitors of a museum whose pictures and sculptures lack labels and it were our job or play to guess who is the author, the school or style. O perhaps, rather than a museum with landscape paintings it is like a Noh theater play, in which the trees, players almost immobile during the whole act, burst in flower in the last scene?





“Lunch ceremony, omelette-Zen”

What would be the “lunch ceremony” like?

Guests would get rid of sweat and dust before entering in the shade inside the cabin. A wooden table, not varnished. Some fresh water, and black olives. An equivalent of Sen Rikyu, the most famous of Tea masters, our “lunch master” could suggest that, in order to reach the highest refinement peak, guests would have been given the opportunity to choose a tomato from the orchard, a tomato in the precise point of the maturing process. The items, simple glasses and ceramic plates. If Hamada Shoji promoted a revival of Mashiko popular ceramics, someone could do the same “la Bisbal” products. Now the guests would go out to the garden while the host cooks an omelette with potato and onion. Of course, potato and onions must have been prepared before, its elaboration is slow. The omelette finished, the guests reenter. The host offers each one a helping and red wine to drink. If the orchard provides good lettuces a salad can be proposed.

The “Lunch Master” would remark that, in tasting the omelette, we must concentrate in its exact savour, the cooking point of the egg, which has to be as raw as possible while holding some consistency. Following Zen buddhism, we empty our minds of all desirem anxiety or obsessions and do concentrate, this time, not in breath or body position like in Zazen, but in the omelette experience, taste, temperature, texture, the diversity of components that form an unity, eggs, potato, onion; and some possible variants like spinach or marrow. The quick evolution of the temperature reminds us of how ephemeral wordly things are and the convenience of living the concrete present forgetting about the desires that may obsede us. It is odd that the catalan popular expression “omelette dreaming” means just the opposite: to believe that something desired is attainable although it can be impossible: “the one who is hungry dreams of omelettes”. The omelette-Zen buddhism of the “Lunch Ceremony” points to the contrary: Don’t think about omelettes if you can’t have them, and don’t about anything but the omelette when you are eating it.

The choice of olives, water, wine, ceramic items and last but no least the elaboration of the omelette constitute formidable esthetic challenges to be addressed by the “Lunch Ceremony” adept. It remains to study how could be adapted the tradition of the hanging scroll with a painting and a buddhist inscription. The format most usual here is oil painting which is not as suitable for a quick change. And latin characters will never match the expressiveness of xinese or japanese ideograms. We could start with a collection of watercolours, engravings or photos, related with the flow of seasons. The host would copy some suitable verses as caption in good calligraphy.

In the meanwhile, at leat I have already the right lettuce to begin with.

And I believe that somehow a nap should be added to the ritual. But still don’t know how.


Lettuce, Tea ceremony, Lunch Ceremony

A sunny winter morning. I’ve gathered a lettuce, roman variety, from the little orchard that I have in my terrace; long, shiny, elegant emerald green leaves. While I was preparing the salad I remembered a recent lecture by Benet Casablancas on Haydn. He analysed, bar by bar, the “suspense” effect when the predictable evolution of a phrase is interrupted by an unexpected intermission. How many precious details we miss in a superficial hearing! When listening to this passage again, how far the islamic anger for some cartoons seems to be! and how near and similar to that intolerance -boycott included- the spanish refusal to the catalan federal pretensions.

The salad is really fine. Is it because of the lettuce? the olive oil? perhaps because I am much more attentive like when listening to Haydn after the lecture? An Esthetics about salads? Why not? didn’t not the japanese create an Esthetics and even a kind of religion around Tea Ceremony?

Not long ago I reread Okakura Kakuzo’s “Book of Tea“. Tea ceremony, or how to transform an everyday act, like invite a guest and offer something to eat and drink, into an opportunity to worship beauty, to have in mind zen budism, sobriety, worship the imperfect and ephemeral, to formalize a rite of sensivity. Guests reach the Tea Room through a garden, in silence. They wash their hands to purify themselves and enter the room wich lacks any decoration but for the kakemono, a scroll with a painting and some buddist scriptures on it, specially chosen fot that occasion. Three meal courses are served and after that guests exit to the garden while the host prepares tea. The scroll is removed and flowers placed instead. Guests wash again and enter. Tea is served according a certain rite and using specific items, particularly a ceramic bowl. There are about thirteen items, all of them carefully chosen, each one an art work, which are examined and commented by the guests. After a some conversation another tea is served and they take leave.

I wonder what should be our culturally equivalent of the tea ceremony, here in Barcelona. Some theologian has said that eucharistic liturgy in the east should be carried with rice and tea instead of bread and wine. So, I guess that “tea ceremony” in the mediterraean area should be a kind of “early lunch ceremony”. Instead of the tea room in a japanese garden we would dispose a sort cabin in a neat orchard, white plastered walls, a cover out of cane. Nearby a pool and running water.