Right Head: Oh, stop bitching and let's go and have tea.
Left Head: Oh, all right, all right, all right. We'll kill him first, and then have tea and biscuits.
Middle Head: Yes.
Right Head: Euurgh, not biscuits.
Left Head: All right, not biscuits, but let's kill him anyway!
All Heads: RIGHT! - from film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
When Lucy steps through the fur coats in the English country wardrobe and right into a completely new world in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, it is no surprise that the first being she meets, a bushy red faun named Mr. Tumnus, immediately invites her to tea: "Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?"
This is not the stuffy tea with just the right curd and just the right Devonshire cream of high flying society, but the welcome tea. (Anything goes. It's a gift.) Tea for two. Tea for three. In Walden; Or Life in the Woods, Thoreau wrote: "I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude , two for friendship, three for society."
"[I]n the East tea is a dietary staple for one and all, and a sign of hospitality even in the humblest of surroundings. Chinese tea houses, India's roadside tea stalls, Afghan chaikhanas, and the little cafes of Turkey and Egypt are democratic and lively - the opposite of tea rooms in Europe." - The Little Book of Tea, Sangmanee, Kitti Cha et al
Sometimes I have a fleeting vision of a petite mobile tea with collapsable stools that one carts around the street like the ice cream vendors in the Mission. I pull up to any street corner for instant comradeship. Instant poetry. (You see poetry and tea just fit together.)
The old maxim, "Make Music Not War" is sprinkled generously throughout souvenir T-shirts in the French Quarter shoppes, New Orleans. I cherish that philosophy as a way of life. Maybe less so as simply a slogan.
I have a strong hunch had I'd ever gone busking with my friend between the guitar, the mobile tea cart, and a cheerful placard gently coaxing soul-baring, "Tell us your dream. We'll tell you ours" we'd have prevented civil wars, if not worldwide war.
In April of 2006 I started to drink tea and toast at dawn in the garden. An old habit I'd picked up in Sri Lanka, a land where we drink a warm milk tea (in lucky days maybe with trifle from those little clay pots) and convive at the drop of a hat. My writing blossomed along with that spring. (Please! Don't use this post as any evidence....I've not been up before the crack of 10 o'clock in many moons. I'm anticipating these teas will get my groove back.)
"While other social gatherings might make some people nervous, a tea party should be relaxed. The host or hostess or tea-master is Zen calm. Tea is peaceful. Is it possible that the tea party brings out our truer nature? Do we open ourselves up, let go of conflicts and problems, and experience our lives as part of a larger whole?
The tea party is an opportunity for metamorphosis." - Tea Celebrations, Alexandra Stoddard
Tea is only the symbol. Look closely and it's exceedingly simple. Dried leaves plucked from the Camellia sinensis bush, add boiling spring water, sip. Look deeper and it's twined together with peace, tranquility, inspiration, fantasy, conviviality, hospitality, poetry, soul, companionship, alchemy and immortality. Look closely and it's exceedingly simple. Toss out the tea leaves if you wish, but consider the rest as a recipe for what we've always supposed was the elusive and exotically far-off: eternal now and unity.
Art Make Tea Not War stencil from the Worchester Stencils Photo Essay (yay street art!) (Thanks! Aha, at this photo essay learned that Buenos Aires started the stencil movement: Some might call it the birthplace of the political street stencil.); Tablee Aux Cinq Jeunes Filles (or Tea Party), by Franck L.
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