I don’t drink tea the way I used to; part of it is directly related to recently finding I’m fairly lactose intolerant. Part of it stems from the beginning of the year, when I gave up caffeine. But since 1997, tea has been such an ingrained part of who I am that to suddenly note to family and friends that I just don’t imbibe as previously is hard to explain. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around! And I do miss those endless cups of black tea, with generous splashes of milk; nothing is as calming to this writing quilter as a hot milky cuppa.
Or was as calming; lately jasmine tea has become my substitute, for I still need a cup of something warm to get myself going each day. But on Mother’s Day I was sent back to the past, my British tenure to be precise. My eldest daughter had arranged a special treat for us, a surprise booked way back in February, when my caffeinated-less life was just becoming cemented, but before the dairy issue raised its head. Over the last month, since excising milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream from my diet, it’s become a slightly stressful curiosity, for I know my daughter, and she certainly knows me.
And as Mother’s Day approached, her enthusiasm bubbled while my thoughts swirled; just what was in store for us on Sunday, 11 May?
In the meantime, I cut fabrics, birthday fabrics to be precise. Sometimes I save the selvages, for a writerly purpose. On Saturday, the tenth, I collected my fave selvages, putting them on the Janome, which still needed to be cleaned out after the Whale Quilt. I was expecting a lot of blue fuzz, and believe me, I wasn’t disappointed.
Mother’s Day 2014 will be one of those dates I’ll not forget; part was taking Bart with my daughter, not a usual occurrence. She came down our way, and I met her in Fremont, currently the most southerly Bart station. She doesn’t drive, and I don’t like driving in San Francisco, our destination. That was all I knew for certain; we were spending the afternoon in the city.
It’s different, being feted as a mum by grown children. The hands-on mothering has (mostly) ended, but advice and admonitions are plentiful, from both sides. That eldest daughter was the quilting instigator (she also twisted my arm about the writing). And now, even though public transport was our mode of heading north, I was being taken out by this girl, who really isn’t a girl anymore. Married for nearly two years, a masters degree in tow, plus Buttercup to sort, keeps my daughter on her toes, as well as a job in Oakland that requires her on Bart every weekday. She said it was nice traveling with someone on the train, and I was most appreciative of her knowledge, and her Bart app, keeping us abreast of the next stop before it was called out by the driver.
She had warned that once we exited the train, our steps would need to be fast; we had to be at our destination at eleven. What she didn’t know was a hill awaited, testing my mettle. I walk every day (thereabouts), but on the flat sidewalks of our neighborhood. However, we trudged as quickly as possible up the hill, turned left onto Church Street, finding ourselves in a charming residential area of SF. My daughter checked her phone, then smiled, noting we were very close. And within eyeshot, I smiled; Lovejoy’s Tea Room loomed ahead.
It’s been over seven years since I’ve had afternoon tea. Not that we were that extravagant often in the UK; most of the time I was happy with a pot of tea and a Fat Rascal at Bettys’ cafes scattered throughout North Yorkshire. But there is something elegant about afternoon tea, tiny sandwiches and dainty cups which lead to sip after delicious sip of hot, perfect, healing tea. However, now there was a caveat; no dairy for me.
I’ve been having almond milk every morning, in my cereal. I have even tried it in tea, but it wasn’t the same, so since mid-April, I had basically given up black tea, decaf of course. But I wasn’t in the frame of mind to drink something jasmine-like. Maybe tea with soy milk would be okay, or maybe…
Maybe I would give tea with almond milk another go. Perhaps it was all in the teacup employed.
I have to say I had two pots of tea, almond milk just fine. I also had one of the most enjoyable afternoons of recent days, my daughter and I at what was as close to an English tea experience as the West Coast could proffer. The food was delicious, the tea plentiful, and the scones were… Supreme! I let my daughter have the Devon cream, while I tasted the lemon curd, then smeared a healthy dollop of raspberry jam on mine. We weren’t rushed, and we chatted about years past, and how different it was sharing afternoon tea what with her no longer a teen and me, well, not in my thirties.
Yes, things change. Now I sew, while she’s a working gal, paired with her better half, oh, and Buttercup. Yet, in drinking cup after cup of tea, I could have closed my eyes and been back in Yorkshire, it was that spot-on.
She came back to our abode, where I shared with her the quilt WIP. Barbecue was partaken, as the SF Giants won a thrilling game, sealing the Mother’s Day joy. Then my husband and I ran her home. Her hubby had spent the day with his folks, and it was in her backyard I took the cover shots for A Quilt For Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It couldn’t have been a more spectacular Mum’s Day, which morphed into a week of sewing the quilt WIP, reading over the novelistic WIP, and making bookmarks.
I need to send my daughter one of those bookmarks, as a thanks for such a beautiful afternoon, and because she prefers print books over digital files. She’s a child of her generation when it comes to her finesse with smart phones, but her heart is drawn back to ancient days when a cuppa soothed the world’s ills, complimented by a quilt to keep out the chill.
The perfect balance, methinks, as I peruse fabric and prose WIPs, feeling a little torn in two. (More on that soon…)