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On this day in tea there were many serious moments that left a mark on the world. In 1606 the curtain would close on Guy Fawkes for his part in the Gunpowder Plot. He would be remembered for years afterwards with the burning of his effigy set to fireworks. In 1865 the United States Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery. In 1929 the Soviet Union would politely send Leon Trotsky into exile, the same year that smooth voiced actress Jean Simmons was born. And looking up to the skies, in 1971 astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell took flight in a Saturn V and set off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon. In the present day, there are many eyes looking up towards the moon.
In the wee hours of Wednesday morning on January 31st a trio of blanket and shawl wrapped females sat on their favorite balcony at the Hathor Boarding House. A young woman sat between two rather old gal bookends. Emily had her eyes to the sky as her aunt Emma and friend Minerva Mox carried on with casual conversation about celestial events in years past. “I declare this to be the most special moment for the moon for this century.” Miss Emma offered. “Here! Here!” Minerva barked as she watched the nearing dawn sky.
Young Emma looked up at the beautiful velvety night sky and felt overwhelmed by its beauty. Her eyes kept darting to the very full moon and a smile would cross her lips. This was an evening that reminded her very much of being with her mother. She always felt her mother was a star in disguise; a brilliant celestial creature who had temporarily come down to earth.
Seaweed Starwart found herself spending more and more time lounging in the fallen leaves she was supposed to be raking up and staring at the fence surrounding the house across the street. Every so often a man would come walking down the sidewalk and as he grew nearer to the fence his eyes would become dreamy, his movements would become relaxed and ever so slowly he would let himself drift towards the fence. Once there he’d happily stand looking over the fence at something Seaweed couldn’t see until the lady of the house came rushing from the front door and shooed the man away.
Lazily Seaweed got up from her comfortable leaf nest and found that her curiosity was getting the better of her. She checked to make sure no one was watching and she slipped over to the fence. As she stood up on her tippy-toes and peered over the fence she saw the most incredible sight: Three little sirens in the bird bath singing their tiny little siren songs to whatever man happened to walk by.
“Abigail Starwart! Why are you snooping on the neighbor’s back yard?” her mother called to her from an open window. She didn’t call back. With a bit of a sigh and note of irritation to her voice, her mother called again. “I said Abi… Seaweed! What are you doing on that fence?!”
Seaweed let herself back down to the sidewalk and skipped back to her own yard. She didn’t want to irritate her mom, but she liked to be consistent. Abigail was the little girl with copper hair and freckles. She wasn’t that little girl anymore. She was Seaweed, the miniature adventurer with copper hair and thick streaks of green running through it. And the freckles? She’d set anyone straight on that. They were a secret star-map of constellations only seen in hidden places. She’d been tasked with guarding this special map.
She smiled up at her mother in the window. “Our neighbors have sirens. Noisy ones too. The birds seem pretty ticked off about it. It was their birdbath first.”
Her mother nodded her head and made a worried face and said something off hand about maybe the neighbors needed an exterminator. Once she was reassured her little cub was back within the yard she went back to her cooking.
“I’m not sure exterminators are humane… for anything really.” Seaweed offered to the yard. Soon another man was slowly approaching the neighbor’s fence with a dreamy look on his face.
On this day in 28 BC one of the earliest observations of a sunspot was seen by the Han dynasty astronomers in China. In 1869 the first Transcontinental Railroad is completed linking the east to the west in the United States. And in 1908 the very first Mother’s Day is observed in the US in Grafton, West Virginia. Sidney Blower knows very little about these dates and their recorded events, but she does know a thing or two about the sun. You see, on May 10th in 1913 Ms Blower catches the sun and successfully brews it into her new tea.
The idea came to Sidney one night as she sat with her mother and father on the porch of their country home. The sun was starting to set in the distance and it took with it the last of the light her aging parents could see by. No matter how many candles she lit or how she tried to lighten up their home for those dark hours, her parents would see nothing but shadows and this distressed her so. As she watched that sun she wondered to herself if she could capture just a little of it and gift it to her parents so they had a small light in that darkness.
Sidney’s first few attempts were haphazard events that she didn’t like to think about. A sunburn came from one and a sun itch (something she would tell people you had to experience because no words could properly describe the sensation) came from the other. She knew she was onto something though. She just needed to find the right medium to work with.
There came a moment, as Sidney gently led her parents to the dinner table, where her mother reminded her to bring in their sun-tea. The young woman walked back to the porch and picked up the large jar of amber colored water that had been left with a light weave of material filled with loose tea leafs to cure in the sun. Sidney looked at that beautiful thing of tea and knew she could somehow get the sun into that jar better than just using its warmth to brew her tea.
|1802. During the course of this year Ludwig van Beethoven will publish his Piano Sonata No. 14 in Vienna and Marie Tussaud will for the first time exhibit her wax sculptures in London. Much is going on in the world and there is beauty and creation all around while at the same time many countries are caught up in wars. Lydia Monroe knows very little about these things. She prefers to be blissfully unaware of what the rest of the world is up to.
Lydia is happy to walk through the field of wild grass behind her parent’s home. It’s a wonderful and unkept place where the wild flowers have colorfully exploded over the land and made it look like nature has painted the scene with its rainbow of brilliant colors. The air smells delicious and fresh. And today there is just a light breeze, enough to blow her hair about and keep her from getting too warm. It is a very nice spring day indeed.
In Lydia’s hand is her favorite basket that holds the pieces of her traveling tea party. From party to party she never knows exactly where she’ll find the perfect tea table in nature. She’s always thoughtful to bring enough to serve three extra people just in case one of these days someone comes to join her. This is the only thing that makes her sad some days: The lack of people to share this beautiful time of the year and her tea with.
|1956, February 23rd the woman born Norma Jean Mortenson legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe and her life, for better or worse, will never be the same again. Just a few months later on June 5th a man set to be just as iconic takes the stage on the Milton Berle Show and scandalizes those looking on with the way he moved his hips. His name was Elvis Presley. Neither a watcher of films or a listener of popular music, Olivia will not take notice of either event. Her mind in squarely focused on the task at hand.
In front of her a table is laid out with countless small glass bowls filled with a variety of herbs, dried flowers and clippings from her garden. The herbs have been carefully selected from the overwhelming number of glass containers lining the shelves of her tea work room. The flowers have also been thoughtfully chosen from the drying flower field that hangs from the ceiling above. The clippings from her garden don’t have as much important except to keep the tea maker’s stomach from rumbling. This thought crosses her mind as her tummy gives her a small groan, which prompts her to reach for a carrot and begin nibbling on it in her best impersonation of a rabbit.
This day, May the 12th, she woke up and knew it was the day she would finally succeed in making her grandmother’s fabled arcanus circumpono tea. She didn’t know how she knew this, the knowledge was just there beating at the sides of her waking mind. Get up! Go to your tea room! Grab a little of whatever feels right! And play little Olivia, play! It was a wonderful feeling. All morning she had thought lovingly of her grandmother as she worked.
|1789, there was a great many things taking place during this year so long ago. The United States would elect its first president on February 4th while many months later on July 14th the French Revolution would officially begin with the storming of the fortress of the Bastille. But on this day, May 9th, a strange little man, who didn’t care about either thing, would find himself walking on a lonely path that cut through a very old forest. He wasn’t quite sure why he was walking on this particular path as it wasn’t one he could ever remember taking. Perhaps that was why he had taken it, he reasoned to himself, it was something new. And though the old man was a fierce creature of habit there was just something about that particular day that said to him something new is needed for a change.
The path went on for quite a long while and the strange little man kept wondering if the path would ever lead somewhere, but more importantly he wondered how on earth his short legs were still happily taking steps. Typically he did little more than walk around his very small house and now and then he’d make the short trip to the well for fresh water. By the end of the day he was always quite tired and his short legs felt as though they had run in mad circles for days. Yet here he was! Walking and walking and stepping and he thought perhaps skipping might be fun, so he started skipping along.
This was all very odd for the strange little man. There was something like a small itch in his thoughts that asked him to consider how strange this situation was. The itch was small though so he choose to ignore and besides! The forest air smelled fine, didn’t it? It was probably being around all of the trees and fresh air that was giving him the extra umph! in his steps. And didn’t that just feel fine? Oh yes, the strange little man was feeling quite fine. So fine he decided to move from a skip to a slight run and on he ran for what amount of time he would never know. Until…
|1910, eyes were pointed towards the sky as Halley’s Comet made its return on April 20th. It won’t be seen again until 1986. Many months later in October Professor Robert Williams Wood will publish the first infrared photographs in the Royal Photographic Society’s journal. However, Caleb Castell cares nothing about what has passed or what is still to come because he is on a quest to find the most precious and rare of flowering teas. A quest that started many, many years earlier.
Tea had always been a big part of Caleb’s life as tea was a very important thing to his mother. His father had died when he was just a little boy and left him alone with his mother. She worked very hard and long hours as a seamstress for an uptown men’s suit shop. It was barely enough to get them by so treats were few and far between. When his mother wanted to treat them it was always with tea.
Now his mother and tea were almost like a sacred experience. She kept a small tea cabinet that held the very best pieces of china that she had either inherited or managed to purchase over the years. On their tea nights she would make a special setting at the small table where they took their dinners. She would light candles and drape everything in beautiful scraps of material she had managed to sneak from her work. It was all about atmosphere for her and creating a warm and intimate setting for her and young Caleb. For each one of these special teas she picked a different flavor. She would brew the tea and put it in her special silver tea pot and go through great dramatic gestures serving her son. Then she would sit, serve herself and together they would slowly sip their special tea. Then, with the tea warm in their bellies and the air smelling richly of its aroma, his mother would tell him old fairy tales that had been told to her in much the same way by her grandmother and mother…
|I was sitting at a table in an open cafe. The day was beautiful and the cafe was crowded and soon I found someone tugging at the sleeve of my shirt. I looked up to see this short, young woman who was dressed like she’d fallen into Stevie Nick’s wardrobe and had rolled around in it until she was covered. I’m not sure I would call it gypsy chic so much as rich material hobo. This is to say that she was dressed quite eclectically and stood out like a sore thumb among all of the pastel shirts and summer attire . I guess that’s why she choose to stop at my table; I was probably the only one there who looked like she knew all the words to any given Fleetwood Mac song.
The young woman asked if she could share my table as there were no free tables. I nodded my head and gestured to the empty seat across from me. She fell into the chair as though her legs were rabidly becoming rubber. A waitress came to the table and asked her if she’d like to order anything. The woman’s very small, yarn wrapped hands reached into a pocket and came back with only a few quarters. She shrugged her shoulders sadly and began to shake her head no. I told her to get something, that it would be on me. I didn’t have much either but I was doing better than a few quarters.
|So a wonderful thing happened today: I got to see a back specialist. Thanks to a fortunate black ice slip next to my car two years back prompted some non-to-be-denied tests in the ER as I walked bent over uttering “ouch ouch ouch” over and over again all chant like. One MRI later it was confirmed what we already knew -my lower back is pretty jacked. The positive side after some testing is that I probably don’t have ankylosing spondylitis like my dad, so hey! Three cheers to my spine not fusing the longer I’m on the planet. It’s just your garden variety arthritis. And phsssbt, I’ve had that everywhere else since I was a tween. However, there was also the problem of a bulging disk and this nerve situation and well… it was still nice to hear “So Ms Bajema, you say you’ve had decent back pain for ten years now? I think I know what’s causing it.”
Seeing the specialist was altogether better because she really rooted into the problem. She looked at my xrays and MRI and nodded her head as she muttered “interesting, interesting”. She got me all flattened out on my stomach and grabbed some pliers and said “I think we have something more insidious going on here. Let’s have a pull and tug. Now try to relax -you may feel a little pressure.” She put a foot against my butt, rammed the pliers into my back and started commanding the monster to get the hell out of there. Needless to say I was a little taken aback by this hands on approach. I think I sputtered “so you’re an osteopath I take it?”