Tea for One

It is raining.

Of course it’s raining. It’s England. But it is not our typical sort of misty rain–or “drizzlers” as they’re better known, here. Instead it’s a rain that really comes down, in many whole droplets and you imagine a soggy man walking into a pub somewhere and commenting on it. “It’s slappy and yukkin it down.” They say in Yorkshire.

And while rain does not typically play a role in choices I make for spending days (because it’s England. It’s always raining.) today it did pull up a chair to the table and tossed in its own two cents.

You see, my Man Cold has subsided a bit, and is settling into what I refer to as a Mom Cold, now — which is the type of cold that still makes you feel horrible but you work on and through it anyway. I still don’t feel fabulous but I needed to write, and that’s a difficult thing to do when I’m stuck indoors staring at all the things I stare at always. I do much better when I’m out looking around at the world.

I’ll just grab my wellies and rain coat, I thought, and I’ll walk to the pub and order a pot of tea and watch the soggy people duck in from the weather and listen to them talk about it yukking it down while they down a pint of ale and get back to whatever soggy business they were up to in the first place. But this is the sort of the rain, that whether you’ve waterproofed is of no matter because 20 minutes in it will ultimately soak you to the bone and I didn’t love the idea of sitting in the pub, shivering with my bones rattling because they’d been soaked through.

That’s bound to make me feel worse, I thought. And just when I’m starting to feel better, too. I’d hate to back up into another Man Cold when I’m clearly doing so well. And so I had a better idea. I would open the bay windows so I could hear the lovely rain yukking down in many whole drops and I would light mahogany scented candles and write from my living room while the cool, damp air gradually slid inside and became part of my atmosphere.

I made tea. A lovely loose tea of pear and ginger sent to me from Florida, by my friend Teri, and one which I save for the days I need a significant brew. I steeped it in a teapot on which reads my favorite quote from Alice Through the Looking Glass.

“How long is forever?” asked Alice.

“Sometimes only one second.” said the White Rabbit.

And using that teapot, I purchased in York, prompted me to think about the forevers in my life that were born in one seconds here and there along the way, and then it made me think of York and how I’d like to get back there soon and enjoy a proper Yorkshire rarebit and also a nice dark ale at that haunted pub where I like to look for the ghost that sits by the fire. I haven’t seen her yet, you see.

I poured the tea into a teacup I’ve had for going on seven years. It says “Sometimes on the way to the dream, you get lost and find a new one.” And then I stopped to think of dreams I was chasing throughout my life, when I might have gotten lost just in the knick of time, and how maybe those were some of those “one second forevers” too and how lovely it is to sit here in my English living room with my tea and my one second dream detours and I thought even though I have a cold, I have a cold in England and that makes me happy.

I was eating a perfect disc of shortbread, as big as a proper saucer. The kind of shortbread that breaks into easily manageable, triangular wedges and I let the bites sit on my tongue and melt into puddles of buttery sugar and I was grateful to live a in a part of the world that does shortbread so well.

The teacup and the little teapot each sat on small wooden coasters, with the shape of the state of Florida etched into the tops of them, and I thought for a moment about Florida, and allowed myself to miss home for a while.

It was getting chilly, with the windows having been open, and the cool damp air had replaced and become the atmosphere in the living room, and so I made a nest of wool blankets I got in Scotland and snuggled into it with my dog resting on my feet, the warm weight of him keeping me toasty while I looked out the window at the relatively quiet sidewalks and noted the occasional passersby.

A small gaggle of children, all huddled together in a wiggly knot, shuffled by in red rain coats, herded together and onward by firm teachers also in red raincoats, the whole lot of them bound together by straps of high visibility, safety yellow. The priest walked by, his English tweed jacket pulled over his priestly collar, and his flat cap pulled down over glasses so thinly framed you almost missed they were there. My next door neighbor, in black waterproof everything, yet still sopping wet, scurried about with a look of concern, while he craned his neck to investigate something up high and it made me wonder if their house might be experiencing a leak or a problem with their chimney. And finally, a mum in polkadots, with no hat or even a hood, hurried past my window, pushing her baby in a pram. Her hair was sticking to her neck and forehead and I when I saw her I was happy to have made my choice to stay in and stay dry today.

And then I sat a bit longer and listened to the rain patter and smack, and watched the leaves twitch as the raindrops passed through them. I smelled the scented candles I’d lit, and tasted the tartness of the pear and the spiciness of the ginger in the tea from my friend and I enjoyed the warmth of my dog on my feet and it dawned on me that all five of my senses were fully enjoying themselves at the moment, and what a gift that is in this busy world where we scurry and hurry and only notice things by accidents and happening to. And I was suddenly grateful for my little cold and its insistence on slowing me down and I’ll have to keep this in mind for later on. Remember this day when life starts to move fast and furious and it feels hard to keep up even though I’m feeling better. That sometimes the best way to feel fully alive is to open the living room windows, and have a tea party for one.

One thought on “Tea for One

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