Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tea on the move

Golden gingko leaves, my favorites.

It was already a pretty perfect afternoon. The rain had stopped and the sun was spreading out. Not that we needed it. With trees this golden and bright, who needs sunlight?

Leaves fluttering and falling, like gilded snow, the outside world beckoned. The soup was in the pot, and Rufus needed a walk. My afternoon tea would be a chai latte to go. (I've been doing these a lot as the season hunkers and cools. A small bit of chai tea, an equal amount of milk — soy, in my case — warmed in the microwave. Squeeze a goodly amount of honey into a cup and pour both hot liquids over it. Stir.) Leash, travel mug, hat, scarf, we're off.

Years ago, I encountered my first prayer labyrinth outside a church. It was a revelation for two reasons. One, it was the first time I encountered focused contemplation in the Christian sphere; before that I assumed all meditation was Eastern. Secondly, and more importantly, I relished the explosion of another previous assumption: that meditation and movement were mutually exclusive. This was before I began a yoga practice and learned more about how to focus the mind while being upright, stretching and stepping.

Similarly, tea is something we often enjoy on our ass. At home, in a cafe, wherever — we pour the tea and have a seat. My ramble with Rufus was an invigorating reminder of the pleasures of a moving tea service. A slow one, of course. The natural warmth of the chai was easily more satisfying in the face of direct contrasts from the chilly breeze and the damp chill from days of off-and-on rain. Once tea mind settled in, the colors of the autumn leaves were maybe a tad more resplendent. Kids were playing in the leaves, other dog walkers were out, an elderly woman shared my momentary joy staring at a fiery red maple. A father with his young son, and carrying a large pumpkin, stopped to ask The Question ("What kind of dog is that?") and chatted for a while after the answer we're so used to rattling off ("He's a mix of Great Pyrenees and Wheaton terrier, which basically makes him a big white Muppet"). We kept walking, Rufus as happy to be strolling as I was. When we got back home, we sat on the stoop and watched the squirrel channel. When I reach a point where I can share the simple happiness of my dog, I know the meditation — or the tea — was worth it.

Rufus one day in the sunroom,
as seen through the handle of one of my stoneware pots.

1 comment:

  1. I also have enjoyed tea while walking. The other day I did it in the rain with a jar of Puerh. The tea was rather a comfort because it's a bit cold to be caught in the rain in Autumn in Minnesota. I could also taste the raindrops tinging the tea with their metallic flavoring. I can attest to the fact: tea definitely goes with walking. --Spirituality of Tea