If I were goddess of the world, I would command less idiocy and mindless bloviating. I would decree that at least once a week every person must observe a flower unfold its beauty from bud to full blossom. I would decree that tea time is the most civilized of human acts.
Alas, I’m not goddess of the world. I wander through my own idiocy, bloviate when the opportunity arises, and I would do well to observe a flower from bud to full blossom — all of which brings me to tea time. How is that?
Desire, distraction and damnation follow me like a ragged dog without of home. I desire to bring clarity and balance, but life gets in the way and distracts, bringing an inevitable damnation fraught by days passing-by unleashed and untrained. Eventually, I weary of the three Ds and retreat — mostly to the books spread about my home, or to the garden.
This latest retreat took me to both a few books (now stacked on the breakfast bar with sticky notes marking pages to explore) and my garden. The books included two exotic cook books centered around spices and herbs and the other about growing an herbal tea garden — one of my lost desires.
A basket of words, like dill, anise, lavender, nasturtium and jasmine brought about enough mental distraction for me to swoop up a gathering basket and discover what I could collect from my wild garden to toss into food or make tea. I first plucked rosemary, oregano, mint, and wild nasturtium. I paired them with tomatoes, grains, vegetables and butter. The frustration that had cloaked my confidence about another project melted with the crushed rosemary on my fingertips and the spicy jolt of nasturtiums ground into butter.
Damnation still lurked about my aura. It pushed me to endeavor something untried. When I dusted the top edge of “The Herbal Tea Garden” and flipped through the black and white illustrated pages of herbs, the page on jasmine was as prominent as the jasmine profusely growing along my back yard fence. “Jasmine. sometimes called Poet’s Jasmine, this vine- like plant with its captivating scent … is native to Persia and northern India … Clusters of richly scented white flowers bloom over a long period from June to September … Because of the euphoria aroused by jasmine’s distinctive scent it’s hard to tell if it is the taste or the aroma of this tea that makes it so delightful,” sent me directly to the vines I planted several years ago. Yes, this was the exact plant as defined on the page I just quoted. Could this be my very own source for jasmine tea?
Suddenly I returned to a moment in my childhood when I spent a summer across the bay from San Francisco. My aunt took me to San Francisco’s Chinatown for lunch in a tiny restaurant squashed between aging buildings anchored to a San Francisco hillside. A genteel man greeted us at the restaurant’s red door. When he pushed the door open the fragrance of tea and spices escaped from the building and wafted into my senses, transporting me far from what was my living damnation of childhood. Like my aunt, and unlike my life back in the California desert, this singular moment was elegant, reposed and as sweet as the jasmine tea I sipped that afternoon.
So, yes, I clipped clusters of the white jasmine flower and carefully placed them in my gathering basket, along with some petals from a blooming red rose, and leaves from a wild blackberry vine that rambles about a trellis in my front garden.
Carefully, I plucked each jasmine blossom from its stem. I had enough to fill a small baking pan to dry in the oven. I filled another flat pan with the blackberry leaves and rose petals.
While they dried, I emptied a cupboard of unused cups and glasses, scrubbed the cupboard down, and then refilled the cupboard with a collection of spices and teas that I buy in bulk, like star anise, orange peel, cinnamon chips, ginger bark, cardamon, and green and black teas.
By the time I scrubbed some fanciful jars for the jasmine, rose petals and blackberry leaves, the fragrance of drying jasmine filled the air and damnation be gone. I was back in control of my life and in deep contemplation of the abundance of good that dwells in the most simple of acts. Yes, I’ve yet to find a publishing home for my writing projects. Yes, I’m not in favor of what is going on within my country’s boundaries. Yes, I can’t make well those whom I love.
I am not the goddess of the world, but for this moment I am the goddess of my life, and I will make time for tea.