Sitting around a table or fire with friends must be counted as one of life’s greatest riches. During the Virginia trip, teatimes were treasured opportunities to reconnect or connect for the very first time in friendship. The whistling of a tea kettle, clatter of saucers, soft clicking of knitting needles, crackling and popping of a fire, and silvery tinkling laughing children proved comforting and welcoming.
Just as badly as I want to stop every horse trailer I pass on the Interstate so I can see their horses and ask where they are headed… I want to see dishes when I visit people. I ache to open their kitchen cupboards to look at salad plates, tea cups, egg cups, and other items. When hot tea is offered, I accept because I really like hot tea but also because I want to see their tea kettle/pot. There. I feel better now that I have confessed.
I then tend to pepper them with questions about the origins of said teapot, teacup, or mug. Did they buy it on vacation? Was it a family heirloom? Was it part of their wedding china? Did they find it at a yard sale? All the while, I find myself tracing the pattern on the tea cup or enjoying the weight of the mug in my hand.
The story spills out while the kettle begins to hiss on the stove, as the kettle scrapes across the burner, and then while the hot water hits the tea leaves with the steam carrying the memory-evoking scent throughout the room.
That scent reminds me of the tea parties I would have with my girls (for those of you who are new to this site, I had four foster children last year and two of them were girls between the ages of 5 and 8). We would spread an old embroidered linen table cloth, serve little bits of brownies or cake or biscuits with jam on tiny plates, and then I would pour hot tea in the girls’ itty-bitty tea set. Tea parties were our special times and they extended a “cone of safety” so anything could be discussed from classroom crushes to secret wishes. Oh, how I treasured those afternoon teas with my girls!
Hot tea is like a liquid peace-pipe. You know?
At Linda’s house, Katy and I sipped hot tea while typing out emails/posts, knitting, or chatting. While I’d known Linda and Tom (and the other friends along the trip) for a decade or more, Katy was meeting them all for the first time. Every two days, Katy found herself in some new person’s kitchen, living room, or guest bedroom or seated around a cafe table with a person who I had years of history with. I feel sure it was uncomfortable at times for nothing to be familiar to her… but then the hot tea would appear and suddenly we’d all be relaxed and sharing funny stories.
The knitting would come out.
Handwork and projects would appear.
Project ideas would be shared and yarn ogled.
There’s a saying about tea being able to simultaneously represent the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company. I believe that there is a great deal of truth to that statement.
Here is an Irish blessing for you, my friends, to enjoy:
May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you, and all your heart might desire.