It was blustery yesterday– that would be the best description for the weather. I woke to the sound of the leaves swaying crazily overhead on the oak trees just outside my bedroom window. (Thankfully, sometime over the weekend the trees seem to have divested themselves of their last acorns, or I would have thought us under attack! )
The sun was bright, and the clouds full and white, scuttling across the sky with a fair amount of speed. The temperature was still mild, just hitting 60, but because the wind was so insistent, a jacket was the order of the day. As the sun went down, the air had that pungent, crisp autumn scent, and after coming in from grocery shopping, my mind said TEA.
I try to listen to my mind, and so tea it was. I filled the kettle, remembering with a smile why I own a Revere kettle that whistles. (My grandfather was notorious for burning out kettles if they didn’t have a whistle. Come to think of it, he was pretty lethal to toaster ovens, too….)
As the water heated, I chose a mug. My mug shelf is somewhat extensive. (Ok, cluttered. Full, over-running it’s appointed shelf space.) I have attempted to weed it out on occasion, but so many of them have stories, bring back fond memories. Today I was in a bookish mood, and so I choose my library cat mug, one of a pair that my aunt gave me as a house warming gift when she visited us right after we moved here.
Earl Grey it is, I decided, peering into my tea container. I gathered my spoon, my milk, my sugar (no judgments on the manner in which I dress my tea, please. Thank you.) and I stood, contemplating nothing, while I waited for the kettle to begin to sing. At that point, I needed to stop it quickly, as Timmy was asleep in the other room after working a 16 hour day.
Pouring the steaming water over the tea bag, watching the color darken, and then dunking the bag, and it occurred to me that tea is a solitary endeavor, a quiet drink, something introspective and not to be rushed. I rarely drink hot tea during the summer—only when at a Chinese restaurant.
I am a coffee drinker; coffee is my drug of choice, it is made as I arise, (or if I am lucky it’s already been made by my husband) and I awaken to the heavenly aroma of the nectar of the gods. Coffee is enjoyed as I awaken, the cup follows me through the house as I prepare for the day, it finds a home in my travel mug and joins me at work —to be gulped, sipped or forgotten during the chaos that is my job. Coffee is always a brilliant idea if I were to think about stopping at Wawa or Sheetz on the way home, or heading out somewhere to continue my day. Coffee, Perkins style (endless carafe) is a strong memory of many late nights with friends, out after—after….
Hot chocolate has it’s place, too. First snowfall, Christmas morning, a late movie curled up with my husband in the middle of January…
But tea. Tea is something that requires contemplation. It is quiet, it needs a silent house, a seat, a book, and peace. It is gentle, and requires attention paid to it. I settled in at the table, my nook open to Dragonfly in Amber, and realized as I picked up the mug, the heat of it even feels different than that of coffee—maybe because I embrace the cup with both hands, elbows propped on the table, the heady aroma of bergamot filling my nose?
I recall sitting with the grown-ups during visits to my grandparents cousin’s house, being honored with a saucer of tea-diluted milk, made especially for the 4 or 5 year old me. As a child of course, I had tea parties with my dolls, my brother, my grandmother, my dog; complete with the tiny china tea set given to me by one of my grandfather’s friends sister. (Jean Smith– she used to call me up and we would talk about I have no idea what. She always sent me Christmas and birthday gifts, but if I ever met her, I have no recollection.)
(Now, tea party is a dirty word, but I won’t let it stop me from enjoying such a wonderful interlude with quiet, any more than I will allow Joe Morelli to ruin tasty, sweetly frosted cupcakes.)