Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Thermos of Tea and Wildflowers of Spring

Buttercup, Dog Tooth Violet, Spreading Phlox, Alpine Parsley, and Grass Widow are early flowers of spring on the mountain. 

With tea thermos filled, we headed to the mountain. The guys wanted to see if we could get to the cabin, but I was most interested in the wildflowers. After driving through miles and miles of lush, green wheat fields, we reached the mountain base and switched the truck to 4-wheel drive. The roads were dry and we were hopeful we that we could get to the top. But just a couple miles from the summit we arrived at a shady spot and found the road filled with "rotten snow". It was mushy and impossible to drive on top of. After several attempts, and a walk around the bend where deeper drifts were discovered, we decided to turn around. Instead we found a meadow and spent some time walking and looking for wildflowers.

Early spring flowers are usually yellow and purple. As the season progresses, flowers of blue, red, and white become more predominate. I especially enjoy the Grass Widows. They are one of the earliest blooming flowers in our locale and are a member of the iris family. In the valley they start blooming in February. As the months progress, their appearance varies by elevation. Although we call them Grass Widows, their Latin name is Olsynium douglasii. Grass Widows grow in erect clumps of grass-like leaves with round stems that hold the blossom. The flowers are a bright reddish purple (although they do grow white is some locations) with bold yellow centers. They like rocky, moist places to grow. 

The name Grass Widow dates from an expression of 16th century England. It's a term that was applied to unmarried women or to a woman whose husband was temporarily away from her. There is much speculation as to how this term came to be applied to this flower. It may be that the term was applied to the earliest pioneers of the west who enjoyed a tryst in lush fields of this flower in early spring. Or is could be that the flowers were named for explorers and trappers who developed romantic relationships with Native American women they met on their journey through the west.

The Grass Widow is listed as non-toxic, and therefore safe to eat. But, even the animals avoid this flower because it is not at all tasty. Instead, it would best be saved as garnish or decor for a beautiful dessert or bowl of salad greens. It has a tender blossom which doesn't travel well, so garnish for a mountainside picnic is its best use.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Keep Love in Your Heart

"Keep love in your heart.
A life without it is like a sunless garden 
where the flowers are dead.
The consciousness of loving and 
being loved brings a warmth and richness 
to life that nothing else can bring."

Oscar Wilde

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mountain Serenity

Every spring we eagerly anticipate the time the snow melt and the roads are passable to reach our cabin. Last week the drifts in the shady part of the mountain road were too deep and mushy for us to get through. But this week, warmer weather facilitated snow melt and we were finally able to get to the top of the mountain. Although there are yet some patches of snow in shady areas, it is mostly gone. The meadow and woods are quite bare, and show signs of being buried in snow for the winter months. It won't take long now, though, since the sunshine is out, for the woodlands to respond with new growth and more wild flowers.

We spent time taking things out of storage and setting them up again. The picnic table, chairs, and benches were taken from the shelter of the wood shed and placed on the deck or around the campfire. Plumbing was de-winterized and the power station set up. By now everything is done according to an established system and it gave us time to hike and relax. Lunch was tea-style. We had a three-ingredient fruit salad (orange, banana, and grape), apple-cinnamon muffins with chia seeds spread with almond butter, and three kinds of tea sandwiches. They were an eggless egg salad; almond parsley spread; and tomato, avocado and dill.  Everything was gluten-free and quite tasty. The tea was one that was in the cupboard; bagged Newman's Own Royal Tea. It was very good and made better by the high altitude and the crisp air! 

Making the tea experience a part of daily life; experiencing the true pleasure of the teacup's leaf.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Tea of Friendship


It's not uncommon for someone who enjoys the experience of afternoon tea to have a buddy to share the experience with. I feel so blessed that my friend and neighbor, Karleen, enjoys sharing tea times with me. She invited me to come by for afternoon tea. Her invitation said to just "bring yourself and a tea pot". 

When we are together, our style is to enjoy the entire process. When my teapot and I arrived, Karleen set me to work arranging a bouquet of flowers. We walked in her garden, selecting blossoms we thought would look pretty on the tea table.


Karleen lives along the river and there's a beautiful view from her living room. So that's where she moved a table and chairs. A quilt, an heirloom from a grandmother, made a pretty tablecloth. Another grandmother's china was set on the table along with some muslin napkins that Karleen had stitched. The floral bouquet and some vintage postcards set the scene for our tea luncheon. 


Karleen had prepared a lovely menu of delicious, fresh foods.


A cheese and crackers platter was arranged with springs of 
tarragon, rosemary, lavender, and purple grapes.


A colorful "chopped salad" featured toasted pecans and a light vinaigrette. It was delicious!

Deviled eggs were beautifully presented on a tray with a sprig of lavender from the garden.

Fruit kabobs of strawberries, grapes, kiwi, and pineapple were vibrant! Additionally, Karleen served a bowl of cubed watermelon.

Can you see the teapot shaped cheese? Yummy!

Vintage postcards from Karleen's collection added a personal touch to the table.

Everything was so inviting, beautiful, and delicious!

The teapot I brought was set last and took center stage on the beautiful table.

Our tea choice was Buckingham Palace English Afternoon Tea. It was a gift to me from Karleen after her recent trip to London. How fun it was to sip on tea in Karleen's living room that she had purchased at the Queen of England's palace!

Afterwards, dessert was served in the garden.

Thank you, Karleen, for inviting the me over for a relaxing luncheon tea. Your warm hospitality and friendship is a treasure and a blessing! There's nothing more delightful than afternoon tea with a friend.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Festival...of Afternoon Tea

In nothing is the English genius for domesticity more notably declared than in the institution of this festival—almost one may call it so—of afternoon tea. Beneath simple roofs, the hour of tea has something in it of sacred; for it marks the end of domestic work and worry, the beginning of restful, sociable evening. The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose. 

George Gissing
The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, 1903