On this gloomy and overcast Saint Patrick’s day eve, my mind travels to memories of lessons and adventures I had long ago in my childhood.
Primarily raised by the eccentric and nostalgic matriarchs of my family, my early childhood tutelage was that of generations past. As a result ,my imagination was cultivated with superstitious stories and a culture filled with earnest protocols.
As far back as I can remember, the subjects of these stories were spoken of as a matter fact. The elder women of my family would mention them several times a day. Perhaps it would not be a specific mention but one as simple as “knock on wood” and their presence was summoned.
Due to this vital education in survival, I know what to do if one needs to get rid of pixies or fairies from the pantry, if god forbid changeling is suspected, how to find a unicorn or a kelpie and to avoid Shellycoat so as not to loose my way.
Armed with this knowledge and a bravery stocked by the fire of determination I would joyfully venture into the forest in search of the beings I had been raised knowing but never seeing.
The reason for this other world, fairy guided walk down memory lane is the story that Saint Patrick (a Catholic) drove the snakes (the Druids) out of Ireland. I’ve always thought it ironic that poor St. Patrick shares his day with symbols of Druid mythology. The leprechaun being the main character.
But is this odd? My Nana, a good catholic woman, who later in life attended mass everyday, was one of my chief advisers on everything fairy and the facts of what we call superstition.
I see no reason why we cannot have saints and fairies. Superstitions tangled and entwined serve to as a thread tying us to our past – To the culture of our ancestors.
Thanking our ancestors for the life they have given us.
After my Jack Russell alarm clock wakes me for my early morning walk, I begin my morning with a simple ritual. A ritual done the world over by millions of people.
The women of my family have been performing this sacred ritual for multiple generations. I dare say at the very least five generations, but I suspect more.
The ritual is centered around an elixir capable of sustaining the women of my family through an entire day, if need be, and made more powerful if accompanied by buttered carbs of some sort. Most often in the form of toast. Not just any toast, but I will return to the vehicle for butter and preserves later.
The elixir, my morning fixer, is of course Tea. For me, it is the most perfect drink. Hot or cold. However, I prefer hot.
I once had to go a month without a drop. Know that I do not exaggerate when I say if the dogs did not require my assistance in the morning I would have wished to stay in bed. Without the ritual I had performed since childhood I did not feel my day was set.
To make a perfect cup of tea one must first be present. Not just physically, mentally. Each step is just as important as the final sip. In brief for me it is as follows, fill your loved kettle with cold fresh water. This is more important then many would know. Then of course heat to a boil.
In my family, we have always used many different cups and mugs. It really depends on mood and occasion. All with their own personality and memories attached. But even on the most simple morning, tea for one is set for the eyes as pleasingly as it is for two.
I like to use one of my antique platers, nothing too special but pleasing to me, they are the perfect size. Other tea drinkers will agree with me when I tell you different mugs or cups brew a better tea. The same goes for pots. Some swear by Brown Betty others sterling silver.
If you love tea daily, and, in copious amounts, I recommend a Brown Betty. By the way, I have found a wonderful place to purchase Brown Betty tea pots, among other wonderful delights.www.brownbettyteapot.com
Most mornings I go the simple rout. I try to fool myself into thinking I will have one cup. A buxom cup is placed on the plater along with a little bowl with sugar and a wee pitcher for milk. I must insist on milk. Never cream and you may as well go to coffee if you are going to use some sort of fake creamer.
After the boiled water has wrested for at least three minutes pour into cup to steep for at least another three minutes. If you are like me, and you like it strong then it can steep a bit longer. Now I know other drinkers call this builders tea; and I suppose that is correct but strong women need strong tea to build their day.
All this is easily transported to my desk or kitchen table. Once brewed I savor the first sip take a deep breath and ready my mind for the beautiful and full day ahead.
Oh, the toast! Well to be perfect it must be toasted golden brown and buttered as soon as it is out of the toaster. Timing is everything.
I wonder how many others in North America come from long lines of tea drinkers?