This morning, when Clif took Liam for a walk, it was, to borrow from Dick Proenneke, dead calm and zero degrees. As this was Fahrenheit, not Celsius, the walk was a little brisk. But this temperature is far more typical of January in Maine than the freakishly warm weather we had in December. (On Christmas day, it was 61 degrees, and records were broken.)
Accordingly, this morning the view out the window by my desk was a little frosty.
Later today, when it’s a little warmer, we hope to go for a walk in the woods. Cold, snowy woods provide many opportunities for photographs (as well as nippy fingers). We will be sure to bundle up in our heaviest jackets and gloves. Liam, on the other hand, is always bundled up, and as I’ve mentioned before, he is a dog who loves the snow.
This cold weather is perfect for one of my favorite things—afternoon tea (or coffee) with friends. Over the holidays, we had afternoon tea with two different sets of friends, and each time, on the way home, I reflected on how much I enjoy these get togethers, and, in truth, I like hosting them as much as I enjoy being hosted.
Now, let me hasten to add that it is lovely to be invited to someone’s home for lunch or dinner, and I accept such invitations with what might called an unseemingly haste . In turn, it is very satisfying to cook a meal for friends and family.
However, nothing can beat an afternoon tea for its casual yet friendly atmosphere. Getting ready is a snap. Muffins or a quick bread are easily made ahead of time, and tea and coffee are simple to prepare. Then, after the guests have arrived, we can sit around the table and enjoy the conversation, which usually ranges from books to movies to politics. All is relaxed. There is no more fussing to do.
Clean-up, too, is easy, which means that from beginning to end, afternoon tea is a complete pleasure.
When I was growing up, there wasn’t a week that went by when friends or family didn’t stop by for a visit with my mother and father. Most of the time, it was for coffee—in rural Maine, tea hadn’t really caught on then—and some kind of dessert, usually homemade as my mother was a fabulous baker. We lived in an old farmhouse, and everyone settled around the kitchen table. Both my parents were great talkers—they were Franco-American, after all—and the kitchen was loud with laughter and conversation.
This January, February, and March I am hoping to regularly get together with friends for afternoon tea—once a week, if I can manage it, but at least every other week.
Such a simple, frugal pleasure to look forward to.