Thursday, May 31, 2007

Roots II

In my grandmother's house, this was My Teacup. I would come to visit in the afternoons, often after school, and she would make tea. A pot, three cups, a silver bowl of sugar, and a tiny saucer with a fish painted on it for the slices of lemon, all perched on a doily. Honestly, a real doily, from the vast recesses of her manchester collection, piled like slubbed, lacy snow in the linen cabinets. In the sitting room, there was a nest of tables next to the couch, and she would bring out the smallest one and spread something wonderful on it -- perhaps a little cutwork cloth or one with embroidered bees or daisies. "The way you know good embroidery, dear, is that it looks as good from the back as the front. But know the difference, because you must always iron needwork on the reverse."

I took one-and-a-half spoons of sugar in my tea. Perhaps when I was ten, I was discerning enough to have a definite feeling that one spoonful was not enough and two was too sweet. Or perhaps I just thought it was grown-up and refined to be very particular about how much sugar went in one's tea. She always asked. "One-and-a-half, please."

My grandfather had tea, too, sitting quietly in his armchair in the corner reading the paper and smelling faintly of the lovely French tonic that he combed into his hair that came out of a bottle that looked like something from a movie with Lauren Bacall in it.

"Just like your grandfather," my grandmother would say. She smiled into the tray with the doily on it and my grandfather smiled into his newspaper.

She could make perfect half-spoonsful.

1 comment:

jo(e) said...

Such a beautiful and understated description of the moment. Just wonderful.