Greetings and Salutations!

Greetings from Narnia!

The snow is here and so is Advent, making it time for tea and poetry again. This year there are two Advent Calendars running; the usual DavidsTea selection and a home-made one from Simone, a friend from Germany who suggested we do a tea-swap this year.

So off we both went to make up home-made calendars, which in turn got Canadian Customs deeply dubious. No one could possibly drink this much tea, said customs, looking at the box.

Customs had clearly never met us. (Except they have. That one time we had to ship goods from Britain. Remember that, Customs?) So Anyway, they open the parcel, have a riffle through, open one of the Advent ‘doors’ to confirm we are actually swapping tea and not, oh, say, marmite or something. Clearly that satisfied them because that was the end of it. And in fairness, I can’t really blame them disbelieving us. It was quite a lot of tea…

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You see what we mean. But doesn’t it look cheerful?

The first of the German teas is an oolong. While out German vocab primarily comes from singing and is, therefore, better suited to telling you variously that all flesh is as grass, some stuff about the moon, some other stuff about lovesick flowers and quite a lot of stuff about the joys of the daughters of Elysium, we’ve somehow turned that into just enough practical German to talk tea. 

Hamburgs Hanseaten Leibe is a mix of black and oolong teas. It’s a lovely blend because the black tea gives it ballast and the oolong stops it getting too bitter, but without the fermented taste oolong sometimes that and that isn’t for everyone. Instead, this is fruity, rich and round. We drank it after trekking through the snow with reluctant dachshunds and it was the perfect cap to the afternoon.

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The 24 Days of Tea, or what anyone else would call…an Advent Calendar.

Or to take the sting out of 202. It’s had its’ moments, but mostly this year has been one long forward slog. And while it’s true Advent has apocalyptic underpinnings – we bring it up at least once per season – this year the subtext is rapidly becoming text, as they say. So here’s a poem with a glimmer of optimism. It pairs beautifully with both of these and for an encore, reminds us there’s always a glimmer of light, even in the most disconsolate situations.

The Darkling Thrush
Thomas Hardy

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.

 

 

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