Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In the Garden

I arrived in Detroit at dusk, under overcast skies. The skies glowered, brimming with raindrops. That night, in my old bedroom, the rain came, pounding the screen of the open window. I lay under the warmth of my blankets, listened to the wind and water, and tried to fall asleep. The next morning would be an early one; I was here at my parents' to attend my nephew's First Communion, in my role as his godmother.

I woke up to muted sunlight which had crept in through the thin, white curtains. The oak tree, grown massive over the years, was just outside my window, its many branches as if in supplication, bowed towards the house. A festoon of greenery, the branches shimmered with last night's rainfall.

I readied myself for breakfast and my first cup of tea. I took out the now broken-in travel tea kit - replete with morning and afternoon tea selections for the days I would be here. My morning tea was Lung Ching (from the cache I had bought at the Ten Ren teashop in Toronto recently).

I sat at the familiar kitchen table, watching my tea brew in the dim morning light. From where I was, I could see the backyard garden - its lushness lured me. With my cup of tea (and along with one or two madeleines to nibble on), I walked outside into the garden.

I wended between the well-tended plots, my mom's handiwork already apparent this early in the gardening season. Her lilies of the valley grew in wild profusion, their delicate blooms just now unclasped from dormancy. My own at home, in a much humbler patch in our garden, had only put out green shoots, gawky in their immaturity.

The grass was wet, the walkways between plots lined with bricks, winding neatly between different plantings.

I sipped the Lung Ching, at once sweet and briny in my mouth. The air was humid and warm, the kind you often see after a rainfall, especially in a tropical climate. Heavy with moisture, it induces a languor so that you want to go and lie in your hammock, a book in your lap, a pot of tea nearby, and doze off for an hour or two.

When you wake up (feeling slightly guilty for the indulgent interlude), your skin would be prickly from lying in the heat, your mind pleasantly muddled by sleep. It would take several minutes for you to then shake off that foggy feeling.
But there would be no lying around in hammocks for me today. There was a communion to attend, at a church by the lake; a brunch, later, with little ones - and watching them eat one too many French toasts.
Later, there was afternoon tea at the Sweet Afton with my mom and aunt, mulling over a pot of hot chai, nibbling on scones with clotted cream.
When we emerged from the tea house, the sun had come out, the daubs of sunlight blinding me a bit as I looked up at clearing skies.


artandtea said...

A lovely post with beautiful photos. Small world - my parents live in the Detroit area, too, and my Mom and I have enjoyed a visit to the Sweet Afton for tea and sweets before. Mmmm.... I believe there was a wonderful bead store in Plymouth we visited while we were there.

Cha sen said...

It is indeed a small world. Plymouth certainly has a charming downtown. I didn't see the bead store but there were two bakeries nearby with wonderful aromas, luring me in.

Marilyn said...

What a perfect day for tea.

Anonymous said...

In the years to come try to show your nephew compassion regardless of the path he takes. Be independent of his family and other relatives attitude.