Friday, April 13, 2007

The Afternoon Tea

There are few hours in life more agreeable
than the hour dedicated to the
ceremony known as afternoon tea.
-Henry James

I discovered this little tea room several weeks ago. It's called Cherubim, and is tucked away in a valley between two substantial hills. Its flowery back-side merges with a shallow, glimmering lake. The lady who runs it could win a prize for being the most gracious, wonderful woman I've ever met.

And she makes a fantastic cup of tea.

I've had a mind-bending busy week. Have you? Yesterday I was in need of a birthday gift for a precious friend, and convinced myself it was reason enough to pull into the tea room to have a look-see. (They also sell gift items.) I was surprised to find the door locked when I tried to burst in. Hmm. I rapped lightly on the door, then louder, then a touch louder. Guess she'd taken a late lunch.

But she hadn't. I turned around to see Miss Wonderful herself coming from the opposite end of the porch, cut roses in hand. She hugged me and sat me in a rocker overlooking the blooming azaleas and went to get tea.

We rocked and talked and drank our tea as the breeze blew off the lake and circled our skirts. We laughed, then grew serious, then bowed our heads as she prayed in a hushed, gentle tone. I left that porch feeling like a woman reborn.

Let me ask: what is it about a porch, a cup of tea, and the company of a delightful friend that can turn a hectic day into an unexpected gift? What is it about china and rocking chairs and laughs that can turn our hearts?

With each passing day, I am increasingly convinced that our grandmothers had it right. I've said this before, but I think we have our priorities all tangled up. I long for the days when women had time for each other. Time to sit over quilts or tea and talk and cry and pray. Time when mothers had time for daughters and daughters took time for mothers. Time for sisters to truly know each other as adults. Time when friends were dependable to meet or write or ... just be there. (Lacy, I'm so sorry!)

I'm almost sure that many of the burdens or frustrations or problems we women stew over could be lessened... if not ironed out... on a front porch with a caring friend or two. I wonder if psychiatrists and counselors would be looking for more work if we girls could just find a little time to sit each other in rocking chairs and listen.

On the way home from my porch-stop yesterday, I decided to go ahead and spend the money putting a larger porch on Freeman House. I vowed to work hard these next few years, pay off some bills, and seek out a quieter, less frantic life. I promised myself I would try to be the woman who made time. Who made tea. Who made a difference in the lives of the women I care so deeply about.

Wow. Something to chew on for your Friday, I guess! Wherever you find yourself this weekend... whether it's near a porch or not... I hope you have a happy one. A blessed one. And know that my porch... even in the condition it is in... isn't all that far away! -Brin


Marilyn said...

Brin, you have given me plenty to "chew on" for the weekend! I am a porch sitter! I have a large front porch with turned posts, railing and corbels and all because I wanted something that seemed restful and simple in my life. I LOVE my porch. I live on my porch when weather permits and entertain on my porch during the warmer seasons. I even have a kerosene heater to keep me warm during the chilly Autumn evenings on my porch!
As you can tell, you touch a heartstring. And yes, it is a place to spend time with the women in your life that you cherish and love. My daughter, my mother, my sisters and friends, all women that want to take tea and sit a spell. You will never regret having a porch as part of your home.

Sue said...

I just LOVED this post, it's so true!! May porch power live on!! Like I've said before, your such a wonder, a inspiration and I'd love to sit on your porch sometime!! I too am a porch sitter, who isn't??

Marce said...

your writing and your ideas keep getting better and better. I do believe some things that have been lost in the search of the ever-elusive "progress" should be regained as much as possible, and sitting on a porch (or wherever really) to chill for a while with the special people in our lives and take a few hours to enjoy each other, listen, and regain energy is a wonderful tradition which should be revitalised.

Mary said...

Brin, I too am, as friend Marilyn so aptly stated, "a porch sitter" too. Mine is small - my entire cottage is small - with just enough room for three wicker chairs and a round table, but enough space at one end to put the fabulous vivid green potting table I bought today (see my post of yesterday)!! DH and I sit out there for morning coffee, afternoon tea, and often an evening aperitif. Once the mosquito season arrives we move to the screened Victorian gazebo in the back garden.
I loved your post today and wish I could visit Cherubim. Being English I stop every day and make a pot of tea at 4 p.m. I often have friends join me and they, like you and I, feel the old ways must be continued - we cannot lose these special quiet times in the day, shared with friends when possible.
Today when I returned to SuzAnna's to buy the green table (and stayed 4 hrs.)I bought other odds and ends I just fell in love with - I laughed with the owners, talked about decorating projects, and met several other thrifters who were all enjoying a beautiful sunny day just searching for beauty to add to their homes. It was such a fun day out.
Enjoy the weekend Brin and get some well earned relaxation time after your hectic week.........and I'm thrilled you will eventually get your porch.

~~Mikki Jo said...

What a beautiful place. We have one called Stream Cliff Farms not far from my home. It only takes me about 20 minutes to get there, country roads all the way from my drive. Thats a plus!

Rhoda said...

Hi, Brin, you've just made me add you to my list of favorite just drew me right in with your humor, writing & good nature. You are a wonderful writer! I scrolled down & read a few posts & look forward to reading more. Now, I really want to see pics of Freeman you have those somewhere. If so, maybe I missed them. I'm a lot older than you, but sure do remember sitting on porches & visiting. We could definitely use more of them these days, we all need to get back to the basics a lot more! Please come & visit me when you get a moment. I will certainly be back to see you too.

Southern Hospitality

Sue said...

Me again Brin, just checking to see if your alright, I heard on the radio that Texas had a few bad tornados yesterday, hopefully not near you? Stay safe!!

Anonymous said...

i found your blog through a "chain" started on tammie's, and i love your site! this post - i love that picture you created, of having miss wonderful herself :) sit you down and fill you with goodness and tea, of course. we pretend we don't have these human needs, don't we? we try to reduce our lives to palm pilots and laptops and agendas and bills and tasks... and forget our most basic of human needs. i wish i could have shared that porch with you. :) i love tea, too. my favorite companies are republic of tea and tazo. i think the porch is a great idea and don't forget to make your reality of a quietler, simpler life a priority today, not just down the road! thanks for sharing the delightful post!

Sue said...

It's me again, head over to my blog, I just tagged you! lol Can you please email me, I have a question for you? Thanks, Sue

FrenchGardenHouse said...


What a blessing to read this post. I wish I had more time to visit on porches, and with friends.

I DO however, make the time to sit and chat and pray whenever I can with a friend or two (sometimes a "new" friend the Lord sends my way!)

Love your blog, I will return to visit. :) Hope you have a lovely week. Lidy

Cathleen said...

You could/should write a book with 365 days of cozy, comfy essays. This one fills me with serenity and peace. Thank you, dear lady!

The Feathered Nest said...

I think I've only posted one other time on your blog, but visit regularly and enjoy reading your thoughts.

Sadly, in my neighborhood, people aren't even outside mowing/tending to their own gardens. Most have a lawn service. I'm one of the few who does their own yard and I always stop to chat with the people who walk by. It's one of the things that make yardwork actually enjoyable for me!