I seem to be collecting a lot of tea lately.
Black tea, green tea, lavender tea, tea to strengthen my adrenals, tea to help me sleep at night, tea to help me wake in the morning. The other day, while visiting the Tulip Festival in Washington’s Skagit Valley, I spied a chocolate tea that had to come home with me.
My sisters had come for their annual spring break visit. Growing up in small towns in Illinois, we didn’t grow up with afternoon tea rituals, but we seem to have adopted them, individually and collectively, over time. Last year at this time, we took a ferry to Victoria to enjoy tea at The Empress, and once I served high tea on our deck on a sunny summer’s day.
Amy, my younger sister, is always on the lookout for tea cups — English china, thank you. We scour the thrift stores looking for such treasures, and she usually finds something fun for her collection.
Me, I enjoy sipping from my gardener cups. I’m more concerned with filling the house with the aromas of steeped herbs, and I couldn’t wait to share Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe for root beer tea. Outdoors, I have planted mint, and I heard a rumor that chamomile plant starts will be available this week, so at some point in time, I’ll make fresh tea from herbs in the garden.
Tea reminds me to slow life down, and I need it more than ever as springtime speeds up life. The garden calls out for planting and weeding. The first draft of my next novel has cooled for a few weeks and now calls me to get back to work. I woke up the other morning with an idea about how to fix a problem with another novel that has stymied me for some time. A friend sends me a link to a writing conference that I plan to attend. A blogger friend reaches out about a new writers’ group. I’m doing volunteer work for a couple of local organizations, and found myself working closely with a local business to raise funds for a needed expansion.
If I read tea leaves, I’m sure they would say, “Caution. You’re overdoing it again.”
I am fortunate. I am not overly busy because I have to juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet. I have the luxury of doing what I damn well please, for which I am deeply grateful. Still, there’s so much that I want to do! So much to enjoy! So many books to write! So many plants to put into the ground! So many weeds to pull! Though I do my best to stay balanced, sometimes I overdo, making myself overly tired and cranky.
When my sisters arrived, I put my work aside. We spent time together, tooling around the area, enjoying the tulips, shopping, and yes, hitting nearby tea houses. I played tourist in my own neighborhood, which forced me to put my work aside. Yes, I snuck outside a few times to weed or plant, but otherwise, I enjoyed some needed time off from all the hard work I’d been doing. As with any vacation, I felt a sense of renewal.
Today I’m back at work. This week I gear up the blogging and writing as I return to my familiar routine. Sometime in mid-afternoon I will stop, pause, and make myself a nice pot of tea. I will breathe in its scent. I will make time to hold a warm cup in hand in a moment of gentleness to soothe my spirit, to take in the miraculous beauty of my life. In these moments of reflection, I know that I am enough, and my efforts are enough. Yes, the tea leaves tell me I have work to do, but the tea itself reminds me to take my time, to relax, and to trust that it will all get done in good time.