Of Turtles and Teapots

I didn’t grow up with teapots, and a teabag was rare. At eight years old, I made the Kool-Aid: orange, lime, cherry, or black raspberry. Add water to make two quarts, and pour in a full cup of sugar. The blue ceramic pot-bellied pitcher looked like the smiling Kool-Aid pitcher, minus the smile. I measured and mixed instant tea, too, from a glass jar, with the same amount of sugar.

My first teapot came as a Christmas gift from my piano teacher, Miss Shannon. It held a music box in the bottom. I didn’t know it could ever hold liquid and has always been on the shelf.

We lived in a big, white house with a two-acre backyard. Painted turtles lived in the small swamp at the edge of the yard. In the winter, the swamp became a private, tiny skating rink. My brother played hockey on the twin ponds behind our neighborhood, called Lakeview, while I slid around in my boots with the younger children. The Christmas I was seven I opened a large flat box. “My own skates! I’m going out after breakfast,” I said.

My parents and brother never played with me, and my big sister, five years older, was much too important to bother. I walked alone across the back yard, tromping through the snow in my new skate guards. For most of an hour, I “skated” through the snow-covered ice, falling over and over. When I get better I will bring a shovel.

Back at the house, I took off my new skates. Bruised and already aching, I looked forward to tomorrow when it would be a little easier. Soon I would be skating like Peggy Fleming.

This week, the ice on Flesher Pond is perfect, smooth as glass. I won’t be going out, though. My sixty-something back wouldn’t take kindly to a fall. It’s been five years since I laced my skates. I remember because Sam took pictures. On that day, I skated in figure eights and backward, gliding from one end of the pond to the other. Sam slid along behind me down to the shallow end. Just a few inches under the ice we saw snappers buried in the mud, hidden except for the shape of their enormous shells. No cute painted turtles, these. We counted four monsters.

Back inside, I warmed by the wood stove. The kettle whistled and Sam brought in the tea tray. Now we have several teapots: two six-cup floral designs from his grandmother, a couple Japanese pots from Seattle, and two single-serving brown betties from England which we use daily, antiques picked up from a rummage sale. The blue Kool-Aid pitcher sits on the shelf, now probably an antique.

For full-proof tea, warm the pot with hot water while the kettle boils. After the boiling stops, add two teabags for a six-cup pot, pour the water from the kettle and steep five minutes. My favorite “ahh” drink, nothing is more soothing than black tea sipped at the perfect temperature. For me, no sugar added.

Perseverance – a steadfastness in a task, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success – I learned at age seven.

“Let us not be weary in well doing (Gal. 6).”