Social Distancing Diary #2: Teatime

My husband is reading Erik Larson’s book, The Splendid and the Vile,about Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz. Often, when we’re reading something that engages or amuses us, we read passages to each other. Such was the case with Chapter 36, “Teatime.” Larson describes the British obsession with tea drinking.

…”The one universal balm for the trauma of war was tea. It was the thing that helped people cope. People made tea during air raids and after air raids, and on breaks between retrieving bodies from shattered buildings. Tea bolstered the network of thirty thousand observers who watched for German aircraft over England, operating from one thousand observation posts, all stocked with tea and kettles. Mobile canteens dispensed gallons of it, steaming, from spigots. . … Tea was comfort and history; above all, it was English. As long as there was tea, there was England. But now the war and strict rationing that came with it threatened to shake even the most prosaic of pillars.

Frederick Lindemann, one of Churchill’s advisors, advocated against rationing of the commodity, saying “the wisdom of a 2 ounce tea ration is open to serious doubt,” noting that for many tea provided their “principal luxury,” and undermined morale. Lindemann’s efforts were to no avail; the tea ration was raised to 3 ounces a week and remained in effect until 1952.

My local yoga studio offers tea, served in glass cups. The flavor, Celestial Seasoning’s Bengal Spice, is an herbal, caffeine- free blend that includes cinnamon, roasted chicory, roasted carob, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg and other natural flavors. I bought a few boxes for myself and love how it soothes the senses in scent and taste.

Now yoga is online and I brew my own tea. My writing group is online; I miss the face-to-face meetings. We watched a pianist friend of ours, Misha Piatigorsky, perform a solo concert, live-streamed from the Saltbox Gallery, a venue in Brooklyn.  It was lovely and relaxing, but not like being there. I’m trying to adjust. My dinner party with my siblings and their spouses, a sort of annual tradition I began a few years ago, has been postponed. Hopefully we’ll find another date in 2020. Broadway is closed; this week we have tickets with friends to see the new West Side Story. I’ll play the CD and sing along.

I can’t call my son to ask about the grandchildren without crying. I don’t know when life will return to normal. I’ve promised to never complain again. About anything.

But for now, I’ll sip my tea and try to stay calm.

Stay safe, my friends.


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8 Responses to Social Distancing Diary #2: Teatime

  1. I love Bengal Spice.
    On Friday, a group of women artist friends and I got together via Zoom to have a chat about how as artists we can support, inspire, and feel connected during these challenging times. I’m looking to do the same with some writer friends as well — While Zoom is not the same as in the same room, it is a good alternative insofar as we were each in our studios/creative spaces/kitchen tables and could see one another and chat together (and even drink wine or tea while we were at it). We enjoyed the gathering enough that we’ve decided to make it a regular Friday event. There were 6 of us online at the time — keeping it small helps it feel intimate and more manageable. I acted as the ‘moderator’ as I was the organizer, which was mostly about ensuring everyone had a chance to speak if they wanted. We’re looking at holding the size of the gathering to a maximum of 10.

    On my weekly one hour Zoom call for a year-long course I’m involved in, there are usually 18 on the call — in that one, the moderator has a timer and there is little opportunity for ‘conversation-style’ interaction. Each week we are given an exercise to work on and the discussion is about our experiences of that exercise (though we are free to talk about anything else we want when it is our 2.5 minutes). While it is more formal in structure, it definitely helps to keep our group connected and engaged in the work of the course (The Embodied Present Process) with Phillip Shephard.)

    These are challenging times. Tea helps!

    Much good health, calm and grace to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Louise. You stay safe too. hugs!


  3. says:

    Hang in there, dear heart! Sorry you are separated from your little ones! I am enjoying your posts as always. Comfort food tonight, then maybe Bengal Spice. David is with us, and very solicitous. Mike is working from home in Phila. His employer and the gf’s are both considered necessary (or whatever the term is) enough to keep operating, which is helpful…. : ) It’s all pretty strange and sudden, isn’t it, hopefully will pass. My best to all ❤ m


  4. You capture the mood! If only coffee had that much significance in this country, but I do love my cup of Vanilla Ginger tea at the end of the day! We had a little visit in the garden today, 20’ away from the Grands and it was divine! Stay safe Lisa!


  5. Drjcwash says:

    Love you are reading to each other


  6. Just a note: Bengal Spice is not tea. We would never have got through the war with that! But I realize that British black tea with milk is not for the faint-hearted. I’ve cut down to 3 mugs a day but I don’t think I could ever give it up 🙂


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