Wings, prairie flowers, and chai ~

When life is less than rosy-tinted, I go outside. Often w/a mug of tea. Funny: usually I prefer cups & saucers to mugs, but outside? Mugs seem … more appropriate? Maybe they’re just easier to maneuver! 😏

I make a large mug of whatever tea feels right (usually a China black of some sort, although lately I’m drinking chai for the cold), add milk & sugar, & go sit in the bamboo rocker made for me when I was pregnant w/ our first son. A time long ago & far away. 😏 I don’t make my own blend — I have, in the past, but what I can buy is far less trouble. And just as good, or better! Right now, my favourite is the  Earl Grey masala chai from Vahdam Teas. Something about the chai spices & the Earl Grey bergamot is just right.

In the early morning, the bird feeders at the edge of the patio are aflutter with wings & beaks. Goldfinches, house & purple finches, blue jays, cardinals, wrens, titmice… Not to mention nuthatches, towhees, crows, & doves. As well as the 3 kinds of woodpeckers, and the occasional bluebird. They jostle each other on the sunflower feeder, spread wings defiantly on the seed cylinder, and hover for position on the small seed feeder. The woodpeckers, wrens, & nuthatches maneuver for a foothold (upside down, sideways, whatever) on the suet block, and the entire ballet is perfectly choreographed for maximum entertainment.

Lately, however, I’ve watched snow & drizzling rain fall, the ground alive w/ a cloud of red-winged blackbirds – bright males, starling-like females, and juveniles all in between. They filled the yard from beneath the feeders to beyond the back fence, into Dennis, the back neighbor’s, yard. Few other birds brave the greedily raucous mob, although a single chipmunk sat within a circle of blackbirds like the eye of a dark storm. Black & red & yellow, the males’ wings beat against the seed cylinder, the suet block, the small & the sunflower feeders. 

From the dry warmth of the living room window, I sip my chai as I follow avian antics. As I mentioned, the bergamot Earl Grey pairs perfectly with the cardamom-forward spices (cinnamon, cloves, & black pepper are the others). I add milk & a couple of Demerara cubes, and I’m set for cold wet weather. Like the birds, I’m happy. A wren hops onto my rocker, since I’m inside, and looks through the window. We smile at each other.

In the garden, all is dormant. One of the raised planters holds the debris from prairie flowers, stalky & twiggy stems of tall sunflowers & coneflowers & penstemon spike from the brush, home to seeds the Carolina wrens like to comb through. 

The other raised planter still holds a none-too-successful planting of blackberries. Oh, the blackberries were successful, but they’re ungainly, even ugly! My daughter-in-law will take them, to add to the ‘failed’ raspberries she already transplanted to her own garden. We’ll add more native flowers. So that I can sit back in the rocker, take another swig of that day’s tea (dragon pearl in the spring, peach matcha in the summer…?), and watch spring flicker its swallowtail wings about the blossoms. But that’s in the future, weeks away.

In the meantime, I’m standing, mug in hand (I’m almost outside, right?), following a wren sitting in my rocker on the porch. It looks at me, I look back. We share a moment, and I return to my tea.

There’s something about a cup of tea that helps me remember to slow down, to look around. To nod to wrens. After all these years of ‘tea breaks’ it’s become a habit. One we’d all be the better for adopting! 

Published by: Britton Gildersleeve

Writer Britton Gildersleeve grew up in Southeast Asia, moved to the Middle East when she married, and returned to Oklahoma to raise her two sons. Now that they're grown, she and her beloved live in Virginia, where she can be closer to sons, daughter-in-law, & grandsons. Sometimes she hears voices, so she writes ~ And she drinks a lot of tea.

Categories birds, chai, teaTags, Leave a comment

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