That’s a strange expression, right? But one that has guided me and made me think things thru for many years. When I was first married, my husband’s old grandmother gave each new couple a copy of a cookbook called Mennonite Community Cookbook. That was in 1969 and we didn’t have all these fancy cooking methods we do today; things were done in old ways, real food made from real ingredients, and new brides that needed help learning how to do all that.
A lot of cooking and measuring ingredients info in that book was useful to me then. But the most useful thing Mrs. Showalter’s book taught me was one expression. Roasted partridges do not fly into one’s mouth.
Unless you lived out in the country a long time ago, you probably don’t know what a partridge is. They are small birds, also called quail, that travel in groups out in fields and stay hidden in long grass as much as possible to prevent becoming the lunch of hawks. For you to be able to have a meal of roasted partridges, someone had to go shoot the birds, clean then, prepare and serve them. That wasn’t convenient in the way we think of convenience now, but it was the way things were then.
Up above is a beefsteak tomato seedling. It’s a seedling about patience. I’m one of the old folks who still wants to start with seeds and grow some of my food in the summer. There are some people who think that food comes from the grocery store, and have no idea beyond that what they are eating, how it grew, how it got to them and what happened in between. Patience is a virtue being lost by so many people in our modern world. People want things fast, and convenient, so they can get on with their more important things. I can’t imagine what is more important than thinking about what we eat, having and making time to make sure it’s good stuff, considering sustainability in all aspects of our lives, and letting all that flow into the concept of how we treat our mother earth. All that goes together in one big thought for me.
So, Mrs. Showalter’s original expression isn’t just words; it’s a way of life. A thought process that guides me to have patience and remember where we came from. And where we’re going. I can buy tomatoes at the grocery store, sure. And all the other stuff I grow too. But it makes me happy to watch seedlings grow and flowers develop on plants, and tend to them to help them to give me good food that I know I had a part in producing. All the things that are steps along the way are part of living close to the earth the way I believe we were intended to. Processes in life are not always convenient. But convenience isn’t everything.
Roasted partridges do not fly into one’s mouth. How wise she was back then to originate such a profound expression.