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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: All About Rhubarb
By Ann Grover


“We have our day cut out for us, don’t we?”

Mabel and Annie tiptoed through the dew-drenched yard to the thicket of rhubarb in the garden. The sun was peeking through the leaves of the cottonwood trees, and birds were trilling their morning greetings.

“We certainly do,” replied Annie.

Mabel twisted long stalks of ruby-red rhubarb from their roots while Annie removed the gigantic leaves. Before long, they had a huge stack, which they divided between them and carried to the white clapboard house.

They began to cut up the juicy fruit, and in no time, a pot was simmering on the range, and a stoneware bowl of rhubarb, oranges, lemons, and sugar was sitting on the counter.

“How much do you reckon we have?” asked Mabel.

“Enough to make our usual jam, marmalade, conserve, and chutney. And still plenty to give away. We could bottle some juice for punch.”

“As we usually do.” Mabel scooped a handful of rhubarb into another bowl while Annie measured sugar and ginger. “One thing about rhubarb. It always grows in abundance.”

“It sure does,” replied Annie as she moved to the range and gave the steaming mass of jam another stir.

In the way of old friends, with a felt cadence, the two women worked side by side. One sliced, the other stirred, one measured, the other scooped.

There were more trips to the leafy rhubarb forest in the corner of the garden, and in turn, the rows of glowing jars on the counter grew longer. Pink jam, rosy conserve with suspended flakes of almond, and golden marmalade with just a hint of a blush.

Mabel brought up another wooden box of jars from the cellar and filled the sink with hot, sudsy water. A batch of chutney was simmering under Annie’s careful eye, the air redolent with the fragrant spices.

“Why do you suppose God made rhubarb?” pondered Annie as she stirred.

“Just because it’s so lovely, dear, don’t you think?

“Yes, I know, but it has no real beauty, no flower, no scent. And it’s so tart.”

“Yet, somehow, it makes delicious pies and crumbles. And chutney. Do mind the chutney, dear. You know how easily it burns.”

Annie gave the aromatic mixture a turn. “And it grows so profusely.”

“It’s a mystery, to be sure, why God should have created such a homely fruit,” reflected Mabel. “But, maybe its very abundance is the mystery.”

“What do you mean?”

“We simply take it for granted.”

“Hmmm,” mulled Annie.

They ladled the hot chutney into clean jars, occasionally stopping to wipe the sweat from their brows. Finally, the last lid was twisted on, and both women heaved a sigh of weary and contented relief. It didn’t take long to wash up the chutney kettle and wipe down the counters. Annie set their spattered aprons to soak in a basin of cool water, and Mabel made a light supper.

They took their chicken sandwiches and glasses of tea to the front porch where a cool breeze was winding through the lengthening shadows. After easing themselves into comfortable wicker chairs, they ate in silence, enjoying the satisfaction of a job well done.

“You know,” Mabel finally said, “I’ve been thinking about the rhubarb. We welcome the little knobs pushing up through the soil as one of the first signs of spring. Before we know it, we are inundated with it, and we can’t keep up. We make all these preserves and try to give away as much of the stuff as we can.”

“Yet, by mid-winter, our mouths water at the very thought of a lovely rhubarb strawberry pie,” added Annie.

“Precisely!” exclaimed Mabel.

“You’re saying that we don’t appreciate God’s blessings as we ought. We breathe, the sun shines, and He gives us dear friends.” Annie paused to look into Mabel’s eyes. “Not a day passes that God doesn’t bless us in abundance with His goodness.”

“Right, and we so easily become discombobulated when something goes wrong, or it seems something is missing.” Mabel shook her head. “We long for the very thing that we took for granted or didn’t know we had.”

“We are such fickle people. God must surely laugh. No wonder He gives us such things as rhubarb to teach us about Himself.”

Both women laughed and settled into companionable silence. The glory of the rose-tinted sunset shone on their faces as they contemplated a God who was exceedingly generous, even with rhubarb.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sharlyn Guthrie06/15/06
Great lessons from an abundant plant. It was all so true, and so well conveyed with your easy conversation. Blessings!
Lori Othouse 06/16/06
What a sweet story, demonstrating just how God reveals His goodness all around us, if we just take the time to look. Nice job!
Melanie Kerr 06/17/06
I live rhubarb! I don't grow it though! I love the way that we can learn so much about God through the way nature works.
Sally Hanan06/17/06
Nice descriptions of how comfortable these two women are around each other, I instantly felt as if they were familiar friends.
While I think you wrote 'replied Annie' on purpose to continue the flow of enjoying the mundane, I would have preferred something like 'gasped Annie, as she slashed at the gigantic leaves'.
A very restful piece.:)
Pat Guy 06/17/06
A beautiful flow of friendship and companionship with sweet lessons along the way. Realistic and easy to relate to.
Marilyn Schnepp 06/18/06
I have no idea what "chutney" is, but I do know about Rhubarb Pie; my mother used to make - but it is very, very rare to see anybody make it today. Interesting subject. Thanks for sharing.
Suzanne R06/19/06
A lovely picture of friends and God's abundance.

Rhubarb chutney - yum.

Well done.
Lynda Schultz 06/19/06
Who would have thought that such spiritual insight could be squeezed out of rhurbarb? You got it all: juice, fruit and fibre. Great writing.
Tabiatha Tallent06/20/06
I really enjoyed this! Made me want to plant some rhubarb.
Sherry Wendling06/20/06
Beautiful light touch! I loved this! The easy dialogue between the two women rang so true to their long-standing friendship, and the lesson was brought home with such a graceful humor! Superb.
Brenda Craig06/20/06
Just like going back home, warm and friendly. You helped us to remember the simple things around us and how God uses them. Great job!
Maxx .06/20/06
a felt cadance indeed. This read very comfortable and warm. Looks like another winner ... excellent piece (again)! Good job!
Jan Ackerson 06/21/06
Lovely--what I like best is that you used "discombobulated." I just love your use of language.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/21/06
What can you say about a piece that packs so much into 750 words? Beautiful message, writing, friendship, illustration. Awesome.
Jen Davis06/21/06
Excellent writing and a very creative approach to the topic. Indeed, "God must surely laugh."
Trina Courtenay06/21/06
I shall never look at rhubarb in the same way again. How on God's green earth do you come up with your stories?! What delightful insight and creativity. Our Lord sure is blessing you with an abundance of great stories.
Sherry Wendling06/22/06
Congratulations, Ann! I'm so happy this will be published--there's a heavenly warmth to it.
Trina Courtenay06/22/06
Congrats Ann! This was a pleasure to read.
Michelle Vander Wal06/22/06
I have enjoyed rhubarb since childhood and it is one of my favorite parts of spring. Thanks so much for opening yet another window on the many layered wonder of God's creation.
Rita Garcia06/22/06
Congratulations on your EC award,Ann. Stawberry Rhubard Pie - you do bring back memories! Love this story of abudance!
Jessica Schmit06/22/06
Hmmm...three hours away. I could sneak up on her. Maybe bring a gun...no that would be too loud...I could kidnap her!!! Yeah! That's what I'll do. And I'll tie her up in the woodshed! That'll keep her from winni...er...writing.

Ann, what can I say. You're amazing! Congrats!