Tea and spice

People who know me at all well know tea is essential to my well being. I do not exaggerate. Even when I decide I need to mostly cut caffeine out of my diet, as happens every so often when I want to detox, I will decaffeinate my tea and keep on drinking it. It isn’t the warmth and flavor alone that make it essential but also the memories wrapped up with it. I especially need tea when I’m working on computer drafts, a kind of Pavlovian reaction, as though tea is what will bridge the gap between where my creativity is more functional (handwritten drafts) and what I must do in order to turn in submissions (word processing).

In the fall, as the weather cools and the temperature in my apartment drops, I start to wrap my hands around the cup whenever I take a sip. It’s a kind of contentment I miss during the summer, the same way I miss curling up under a blanket when I’m reading at home or watching a movie.

Baking is one of my favorite stress relief activities, and one of my fall favorites is Scottish shortbread. It tastes great, but the flavor isn’t my favorite thing about it. The only way to mix it properly is with hands in the dough, using warmth to get the butter to combine with the flour. I will squish it over and over until it’s mixed, just enjoying the child-like sensations. The warming butter smells delicious, and once it’s finished baking it’s lovely to dip in a cup of tea. Chances are I’ll end up with more shortbread than I’ll want to eat this fall, which is one reason I love friends who will take the excess off my hands.

Every once in awhile there’s a summer day cool enough that I want oatmeal, and I always cook it with cinnamon and, if I’m feeling fancy, a pinch of cloves. This last summer that happened sometime early in August, and something about the rainy weather combined with having to have the AC on (more because of the humidity than the temperature outside) made my apartment feel like fall. Busting out the cinnamon and cloves for oatmeal that day left me looking forward to the kind of weather we’ve had the last few days.

Yesterday I walked a few miles getting errands done (partly for my plans of planningness), and I loved being able to wear long sleeves so much. I never got overheated, and I could look forward to a cup of decaf tea and curling up under a blanket at the end of the day. I’m a creature of very simple desires sometimes. Maybe a Friday night spent reading, studying a new language, and writing isn’t exciting, but it’s definitely satisfying now and then.

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