New Favourites and Old Friends

No German translation needed today as the tea in that Advent Calendar haled from New Zealand. The company, called Ti Ora, is big on environmental conservation and we half wonder how we haven’t run across it before since the last friend we sent out the way of the Kiwis was big on both tea and environmentalism and should surely have loved this stuff.

Never mind. This might be our favourite so far of the German selection – and no, not because we don’t need crib notes! (This whole thing has done wonders for our working vocab, honest. We can now point out words like ‘almonds’ and ‘cinnamon’ which means next time we’re in Germany we might be able to order cake as well as tea!) Anyway, the blend is called Forrest Fruits and New Zealand Black Currants. It features strawberries, blueberries, and the eponymous currants.

We were unorthodox and kept the teapig (this was the St Andrews local name for reusable triangular teabags) in the mug so were able to track the way the strawberry went from sweet to tart, becoming steadily more subsumed by the other flavours. We liked the tea in all stages.

DavidsTea gave us Snow Day, which was a chocolate and mint affair. We’ve had it before and it’s always a hit. It was our first foray into tea with chocolate, so we’re probably a bit nostalgic that way. It was also our first or second Advent Tea full stop. There’s definitely nostalgia on that score. But it’s a good tea if you like chocolate and mint. We happen to. It’s more mint than chocolate, and that’s probably the right balance when drinking tea, because honestly, if we wanted something really chocolatey we’d make cocoa.

The name of this tea always makes us think of school, and specifically how few snow days we got growing up where we did. The rule was that if the principal could get to school, so could we, and she lived on site. So over 14 years we accrued a whopping 2 snow days. Once the doors had quite literally frozen shut. Such is life in Canada. Or, in the fabulously immortal words of Sunday’s sermon, ‘We have our own equivalent desert…Canadian Winter.’

Not that it’s been particularly snowy. It’s snowing now, aptly enough, and we’ve had two or three other bouts of snow, but it hasn’t stuck. All our ravine runs are full of leaves and muds as much as snow. The Dachshunds of Dawlish are not amused. In the spirit of this winter then, here’s a poem about just that kind of weather. It probably won’t amuse dachshunds either, but only because it’s not edible. But maybe non-dachshunds will approve.

Falling Leaves and Early Snow
Kenneth Rexroth

In the years to come they will say,
“They fell like the leaves
In the autumn of nineteen thirty-nine.”
November has come to the forest,
To the meadows where we picked the cyclamen.
The year fades with the white frost
On the brown sedge in the hazy meadows,
Where the deer tracks were black in the morning.
Ice forms in the shadows;
Disheveled maples hang over the water;
Deep gold sunlight glistens on the shrunken stream.
Somnolent trout move through pillars of brown and gold.
The yellow maple leaves eddy above them,
The glittering leaves of the cottonwood,
The olive, velvety alder leaves,
The scarlet dogwood leaves,
Most poignant of all.
In the afternoon thin blades of cloud
Move over the mountains;
The storm clouds follow them;
Fine rain falls without wind.
The forest is filled with wet resonant silence.
When the rain pauses the clouds
Cling to the cliffs and the waterfalls.
In the evening the wind changes;
Snow falls in the sunset.
We stand in the snowy twilight
And watch the moon rise in a breach of cloud.
Between the black pines lie narrow bands of moonlight,
Glimmering with floating snow.
An owl cries in the sifting darkness.
The moon has a sheen like a glacier.

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