We opened the Advent Calendar this morning to a tea called Snow Day. It professes to be full of peppermint leaves, white chocolate, cocoa and something called cream flavouring. (No, we don’t know what that is. We’re sort of afraid to ask.) At a glance then it is trying to taste of mint hot chocolate. At the risk of sounding snobbish, while we love tea, and we love hot chocolate, we don’t necessarily like them together. Luckily for us, Snow Day actually tastes of peppermint creams, which is a curious choice for a tea since there are only so many peppermint creams a person can eat in a sitting, and it turns out that that threshold is reached before the end of a second cup of tea. It’s not a bad green tea though, provided you like mint lots. This happens to be true of us.
Here’s a poem for today by Thomas Hardy, whose poetry is too often forgotten in favour of his novels. It gets the feel of a British winter to the bone, and just to be novel, in a year of things that have sometimes seemed overwhelming and bleak, it’s hopeful.
The Darkling Thrush
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.