#SOL22 5/31

It was only the beginning of second period, but all of us were already over this day. Before classes had even started, a few teachers had received an email threatening a school shooting. The actual threat level seemed low, but just in case, the police had been called, the doors locked, a “shelter in place” instituted. Then, the internet went out. And it was Friday. We wondered if the universe was laughing at us: “Good luck at school today,” it snickered.

The grade 12 students were unimpressed. Someone had flicked off the lights as they entered the room – “Hope that’s ok, Miss” – and most people were slumped, exhausted, onto the tables. So much for any lessons I had planned. On the other hand, thanks to the power of routine, almost everyone had a book out.

“I have an idea. You read, I’ll plan something that makes some sort of sense.”

“I can set my watch for 15 minutes,” one student volunteered.

“Miss, can it be 20? Please? I mean, the internet is down and…”

I looked around the room. Heads were nodding. “20 it is,” I declared.

They read; I planned. Then I read, too. 20 minutes passed. C’s watch beeped. An impassioned “NO!” slipped out of a student as she turned a page. “I’m so close to the end of the chapter!”

“Me, too!” “Yes!” “Please, just a few more minutes…”

Of course I said yes. And we all read just a little bit more. And our Friday was just a little bit better. Not perfect, but better.

Morning Tea

IMG_4492.jpgThis slice of life is modeled on Philippe Delerm’s miniatures in La Premiere gorgee de biere et autres plaisirs miniscules. (English title: Small Pleasures; actual translation: The first swallow of beer and other miniscule pleasures)

6:45 Sunday morning. In the pantry, I press the cool black button on the sleek silver water kettle, check that it’s set to 100, press the button again. I walk into the warming kitchen and find the blue teapot, the ceramic one I bought a few years ago at the local pottery sale because the blue was perfect and the body was perfectly round. I carry it to the tea station in the pantry, cradling it with two hands, absorbing its cool weight. I find the tea infuser with the turquoise lip and nestle it into the teapot. (This is a lie. I call it  a”tea strainer.” I had to look up the name “tea infuser.” I prefer “tea strainer” possibly because that’s the word I actually use, but perhaps you won’t know my own personal vocabulary, perhaps it won’t be obvious. I consider which word to use. I decide on “tea infuser.” It makes me sound a little pretentious, but it is the official word. I like knowing what things are called. I privately decide that I will go on calling it a tea strainer. I wonder if I will or if knowing the “right” word will change my little world. Is this what comes of writing?) I ponder until the water is hot.

I grasp the large silver cylinder of chai tea and pull off the lid, feeling the slight resistance in the millisecond before the lid comes off in my hand. Inside, twisty black tea leaves are liberally mixed with brown pieces of cinnamon stick and yellow-beige pieces of dried ginger. Three pale green cardamom pods nestle near the round edge of the container. The aroma of ginger and cinnamon greets my nose as I measure three silver spoonfuls into the infuser. I steady the cool blue pot with my left hand as I lift the warm silver kettle with my right and pour the almost boiling water over the tea. I lift the kettle almost to my shoulder to let the water cascade down from a greater height. I secretly believe this makes it just the right temperature. I watch the tea darken and swell ever so slightly as the water rises in the pot to submerge it.

I carry the teapot, heavy with water, to the kitchen table, and I wait. I find my favourite sand-colored tea mug, a gift from my mother-in-law, with the swell that nestles neatly into my cupped palms. I take the milk from the refrigerator and place it on the table near the teapot. I tidy the area around the sink and put away a few dishes. The tea should steep for 4-7 minutes; from years of habit, my body knows when the tidying time is equivalent to the flavour I desire. It is time. I hover over the teapot and pour the cold white milk into the deep brown water. I do this with the tea infuser in the pot so I can watch the tea leaves dance under the stream of the milk as the water rises, becoming cloudy then creamy. I remove the tea strainer and leave it in the sink.

I sit at the table, check that I have what I need: computer, mug, tea. In an almost exact imitation of my earlier motion with the kettle and the pot, I lift the hot heavy teapot in my right hand and steady the cool earthy mug with my left. The heat radiates towards my left hand as the caramel liquid pours into the bowl of the mug. I set them both down. My elbows rest on the pine table and I hesitate briefly before I enfold the mug in both hands, my palms surrounding the bowl, my thumbs and index fingers rising to rest on the edge of the rim.

Warmth seeps into my hands as I lift the mug. I inhale the earthy, spicy steam of the caramel, creamy liquid. The still-cool rim of the mug grazes my lower lip as I blow lightly across the surface of the tea. More aromatic steam rises. I tilt the mug upwards and the warm smooth spicy liquid slides into my mouth at last.

slice-of-life_individual

Slice of Life, Day 25, March 2018

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful month of inspiration.