Tuesday, March 08, 2011
As For Me and My House, We Will Slurp
Today the kids and I joined a big group of homeschoolers for a field trip to the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Phoenix. I believe it was my personal favorite field trip to date. I love the serenity, the calmness, and the simple, simple beauty. The woman who led our tour was wonderful, incredibly patient and kind with the kids, and was able to keep their interest the entire time (no small task when you're dealing with such a large group of children ranging in age from 2 to 15!)
She taught us a few Japanese phrases, told us about their customs and superstitions, led the kids across some stones on the water, and let them feed the koi fish. (Did you know that koi fish have no stomachs?)
Otherwise, we just wandered and enjoyed the beauty of the gardens.
And finally, one of the last organized stops we made at the garden was outside the tea house, where we learned about many of the Japanese customs regarding their rituals of drinking tea. From the kind of tea they drink, to the bowl they drink it out of, to the manner in which they drink it. My favorite part was hearing about how, when they're down to the bottom of the bowl and have nothing left but frothy foam (because they whisk the tea all up with a bamboo brush) that good manners dictate that they loudly slurp their last sip.
I can't explain how much I love that... that a culture that is so beautifully refined, so peaceful, so polite.. sees the value in a good, old-fashioned slurp. Life should be lived. Drinks should be slurped. So many people want to stop their kids from slurping (both literally and metaphorically), but to a Japanese person drinking tea, not only is slurping okay, it is expected. Not only is it expected, but it would be considered impolite not to slurp.
And you know those plaques that people hang in their house, the ones that say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord"? Well, I believe in serving the Lord. But I also believe in "living deep and sucking all the marrow out of life." (Thoreau) I believe in eating foods that are messy and letting the juice run down my arms. I believe in dancing in the rain, splashing in puddles, and feeling mud squish between my toes.
And I believe in slurping.