A Cup of Tea in January (2021)

It’s not yet time to hold tea parties with invited guests, but how about a cup of tea to make the moment special while enjoying a telephone visit?

Perhaps indulging in a good brew while reading a book would be nice, or while simply relaxing in a window seat, if you’re lucky enough to live in a vintage house?

It’s a drink with quite a long history, loved by those who treasure tradition; who believe in the power of its properties to heal our ills and bring civility. Two goals we much achieve in the coming year.

Of Chocolate Treats and Secrets to Success and Happiness

I “love Dove”. I’m not saying it simply because it’s their slogan. I must truly praise this chocolate treat that’s actually good for us – as long as we partake of just one small, foil-wrapped square at a time – rather than to excess.

The rich dark chocolate of which Dove is created is reported to be more heart-healthy, and it’s exceptionally delicious. The samples of wisdom, like the following one, from Dove fans, bring mental inspiration.

Be someone you look up to.

By Emily N. (Kansas) – from a Dove Bar miniature wrapper

These quotations printed on the foil, like the small strips of paper inside fortune cookies, are greatly appreciated by everyday philosophers like me.Discover more here.

The saying included above prompted me to compose this post. What better sentiment to inspire us to stay the course in our career and personal pursuits, than to envision ourselves as our own mentors?

So next time you crave chocolate, why not indulge in the dark, silky-smooth and complex taste of a delicious Dove miniature; the special morsel that will satisfy your taste for chocolate in a relatively healthy way, and offer a message that will make you happy?

Why are Pumpkins the Pie Star of Thanksgiving – Not Autumn Harvested Apples?

I pondered this question for but a moment before I realized, as a visit to the Website of Plimoth Plantation confirmed, there were no apples in the New World at the time of the first Thanksgiving.

Not only had Johnny Appleseed not yet been born, to spread seeds of this pome across America as legend has it, but the fruit had not yet been planted on the continent, to sustain colonists with its comforting taste and properties that may prevent visits to a physician as the saying goes.

Modern research supports the theory that apples can help keep us healthy “100 million bacteria at a time. Of course baking probably kills many of the bacteria. Still, fresh baked apple pie, well seasoned with cinnamon, and my secret ingredients of nutmeg and allspice is a comfort food I treasure when I have an upset stomach.

Want to enrich your Thanksgiving dinner with an apple pie, tart or a fancier apple based dessert? Food and Wine offers some tempting options, from traditional to trendy.

I Miss the Tree – But the Trunk’s Interior is Lovely

I need to look up the details of how a tree’s life support system functions. I guess I’m more artist than scientist, but I do marvel at the mechanisms by which all living things sustain themselves – with the help of a universal energy source.

This was a wondrous day, considering it’s November. Getting chilly now, as the sun is setting.

But the daytime temp hovered around seventy. Not a breeze stirring. The tree branches, most lacking leaves, are starkly clear against the soft pink and lavender shade of the eastern sky.

Yes, I do mean eastern. Tonight the sky above the setting sun is nearly white. Not sure how that happened. Maybe it’s the time of year. It’s so often cloudy in November, and we so seldom focus on mid-autumn sunsets. They come so quickly now.

I try not to dread the shortening hours of daylight, but can’t help it. The chance of snowflakes, too, is troubling. But there is hope on the horizon for our human interactions. The election drama is over (we hope). Perhaps this day will usher in a time when we’ll come together to conquer the pandemic and all the unfairness suffered by so many.

This unseasonably fair and windless November day could be a hopeful portent for a more peaceful future.

Enjoying an E. B. White Essay Beneath an Apple Tree

Nothing says New England like the soft glow of apples, shining in the sun, the fascinating texture of tree trunks and branches, the spell that infuses the understory of an orchard. I’m missing my jaunts to the Northeast, but reading the works of authors whose words capture the classic spirit of the area sustain me.

Several years ago I received a book of E. B. White essays as a gift at Christmas. I haven’t had a chance to read them all, but it is fun to save them as a treat on days when I’m feeling down.

Although the essay I read on a recent afternoon was a lament for the disappearance of sleeper cars and passenger trains, it was heartening to hear the author’s echo from the past, of a mode of transportation I knew still existed, but I never experienced, in my early years. It sparked thoughts of things passed, that I myself mourn today.

Simple things, like neatly packed grocery bags pushed to our cars by polite bag boys or girls, people who pumped our gas and performed on-the-fly fixes; telephone operators who would assist us for free, no matter what type of problem we were experiencing.

Dial telephones without answering machines could actually be more efficient than smartphones. When I was a kid, we all felt secure in the fact someone would help us if we suffered a serious problem, without a long wait, though we weren’t connected 24/7.

Now we supposedly have unlimited access for our every need or desire, if we have a smartphone, but we must push buttons and wait for many minutes before we can reach a human voice. Everything is about company profits, not convenience as marketing propaganda would have us believe.

If E. B. White were alive today, he would certainly have material for essays memorializing conveniences that have been lost due to the need for company profits, as was the difficulty with passenger railways in less populated areas, once interstate highways were created.

My New Office if Only Warm Weather Would Last

This is my favorite spot to read, write or just relax. The lovely silver maple provides a perfet canopy, the warm sunshine and gently cool breeze today, lull away my stress.

Inspiration comes best to me in natural settingsl like this. The trees seem to share the widom of their years with me.

If only late summer/early fall weather could continue into winter . . .but I guess we must have balance. The next best thing would be a small writer’s cabin here. But then again, it might alter the mystical atmosphere.

Here’s another shot of the site. There’s something about this huge silver maple, with frail small branches, yet a thick, sturdy trunk, that renews my strenghth . . .

picture of silver maple

Childhood Memories: The Story of Chicken Little and the Apple

Recently, prompted by a need for nostalgia – the simplicity and comfort of earlier days, I dug my children’s books out of the closet.

One of my favorites was always the story of Chicken Little – and his mission – running to tell the King that the sky was falling, until at last the wise old owl told him it wasn’t the sky at all that fell, only a small apple.

I’m not sure why I enjoy the story so much, perhaps it makes me consider that I often panick at danger which isn’t nearly as threatening as it at first appears. Anyway, when I went for a walk and spotted this apple, I was once again reminded of the tale.

A Vermont Country Store Catalog Cover I Treasured This Summer

My favorite catalog published a cover photo that combined two themes prominent in my mind these past few months.

At a local park, I discovered a pair of Adirondack chairs – my favorite outdoor seating – far removed from the most populated paths. There I sat one entire afternoon, relieving stress as I overlooked the surrounding landscape. I hope to repeat the experience soon.

I’ve also reflected often these days upon my trips to New England over the years. Whenever I recall Vermont, I think of purplish hued mountains like these. Until I’m able to travel there once more, I’ll treasure catalog covers like these, and articles in Yankee Magazine. It’s changed over the years, but still retains the classic spirit of the Northeastern states.

Parsley and Memories

My first experience with herbs was in the backyard of the farmhouse where I lived as as a young child. Parsley was the only herb my foster grandmother grew, but it made a great impression upon me.

I remember picking the pungent stems, just the way she showed me, chewing a few of the curly little leaves while I worked. The taste was pungent, savory, peppery, the flavor of spring, of tradition. My grandmother told me stories as we harvested, of life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when she was young.

She was nearly ninety, when I was born so the tales she told of tradition, of gardening, and just plain living, were nearly forgotten by most, even then.

Some years I’ve cultivated nearly a dozen varieties of herbal plants. This spring, I lacked time and energy for so many, but I couldn’t resist starting a couple pots of parsley, in memory of Grandma Lee.

Parsley loves cool weather. It’s sometimes healthy and full at Thanksgiving, ready for use in holiday turkey dressing. I’ve never planted it in late summer, but perhaps that’s a possibility.