My kids will tell you that I’m not much of a science person, half-heartedly enduring kitchen experiments and only too glad to have others teach them the fine art of dissection. There is one experiment that I was always quite certain would succeed if I ever carried it out. When we were living in the Pacific Northwest I thought that I could blindfold myself, spin myself around, start walking in whatever direction, and run into a coffee shop before too long (I’m talking minutes, not days.) I never attempted this experiment, but I’m pretty confident that my hypothesis would have been proven. I’m a coffee fan, and an ample supply of coffee shops is great if you have a gazillion dollars in your discretionary budget, but more often than not, I didn’t. Thankfully, I have a back-up that’s served me well since childhood. It’s called The Teabag.
My earliest memories of The Teabag are centered around our family friends Dick and Jane. Whenever they dropped by Jane was sure to drink a cup of Lipton. She’d sip her tea and chat with my mother, and most importantly (to me) she welcomed my presence. I don’t remember that I ever actually drank a cup of tea with Jane, but she always made me feel grown up and special. I did drink that up.
And eventually, I did start drinking tea regularly. During my high school years – simultaneously tremendous and tumultuous years – my mom and I began a ritual of having a cup of tea (Constant Comment was a favorite) after I got home from whatever school activity or date had taken me out into the cold Nebraska night. My mom gave me my first teapot during those years. She also gave me a glimpse into what it takes to be a persevering woman.
Sadly, I somehow abandoned The Trusty Teabag during my college-career-marriage-baby years. I now realize that it’s pretty pathetic to forsake such a delight at a time it’s probably needed most. If my daughters are reading this, take note: Take time for tea – no matter what!
Thankfully something happened that set me back on Teabag Track. My husband got into the insurance business. (The trips are one of my favorite perks of his work!) The first trip we won was a “Fall Harvest” shindig in San Antonio, and one of the highlights was The Auction where agents and their significant others got to spend the “auction bucks” they’d earned throughout the preceding months. Having an extremely competitive spouse is very handy; there was no way we were leaving the auction without the English teapot I had my eye on! That teapot launched my teapot collection. Hunting for new teapots on insurance trips and vacations became a hobby, but most importantly that teapot reunited me with The Teabag.
The reunion was timely. My daughters were old enough to want tea parties, and we had them frequently. It was therefore important that my teapots not just be decorative (although I do have several of those), but also functional. And with at least three girls drinking pots and pots of tea it was important to have a good supply of tea. I know that there are those who think you’re not a real tea lover if you don’t use loose leaf in the fancy little strainer things. But I love The Teabag. My daughters and I were nearly giddy when we discovered that our favorite grocery store sold Stash teabags in bulk! A small mountain of multi-colored teabags is almost as beautiful as my friend Sabina’s drawer full of colorful boxes of teabags. (I was a little envious the first time she opened that drawer for me.)
You’ve probably realized that I could go on and on about The Teabag…the joys of quiet, solitary cups with a good book and the joys of shared cups with friends and family. It won’t surprise some of you that I wrote a poem on the topic. It turned out that my daughters had their own Jane (Auntie Jane) with whom they loved to drink tea. It was a providence too beautiful to neglect in verse…
Jane was an artist
eccentric, gregarious, gossipy and fun
and when she stopped by
to the cupboard I’d run
to pull out the teabags
for she’d surely want tea
and she’d sip it and chat
with my mother and me
Jane’s a musician
smiling, bubbly, generous and dear
and when she stops by
all my daughters do cheer
“Can she please stay for tea?”
quite boldly they plead
so she sits and sips
with my daughters and me