Iron Goddess Mercy

Mercy    

 

 

The quaint teashop in the village drew me in through the door.  Upon entering, I notice the tidy order to the space.  Inside, a peaceful calm exists compared to the bustle of the shoppers outside. Golden canisters, nestling exotic teas, neatly line the aluminum shelves.  It is as if they are watchful, standing guard over the quiet room. Sunlight streams through the windows, illuminating the glass vessels and teapots.  I am here for a purpose, on a mission to search for a tea memory.

 

This memory formed from a story that began many years ago.  It began like this. At least once or twice a month, my father would gather my sister and I up.  It was Saturday, our day to visit Vancouver’s China Town. There was great excitement as we readied for the celebration ahead.  We would lift our best dresses from hangers and step into them. Twirling through the kitchen we would spin, our socks leading us through pirouettes and turns. It felt like a party.

 

My father, handsome in a white short-sleeved shirt, copper toned pants, and brown brogues would lead us to the car.

“Time to get out of town, girls!”

Along the way, he would stop at a candy factory to buy us a bag of Rock Candy. The candy was beautiful to behold and even sweeter to savor, the sugar and crunch divine.

 

Swinging the car into an alley within the city, my father would inch it along the narrow, darkened lane, shaded by the shops and buildings.  Garbage cans lined the edges of the alley.  Men in white undershirts with aprons tied at the waist stood and smoked or laughed behind the row of restaurants.  A child peeked through an open window, curious about the little girls riding in the long, shiny car. A dog barked. The car would park and rest in a reserved stall located behind a garage.

 

Scuttling along the street, we would follow our father until we reached the door of a small restaurant. Entering, an ancient man would shuffle over and lead us to a table at the back of the restaurant. This is the same man who would one day hand me a wooden abacus, the very same one that he always used to calculate our bill at the end of the luncheon.  I still have it, tucked safely within my grandmother’s china cabinet.

 

The men would be waiting, seated around the table.  We filled the empty spots.  My sister and I sat silent and watched the waiters carry platters of exotic food, our senses overwhelmed by the sights and the smells.  The men would laugh and drink, catching up on business.  Our father would order us ginger ale.  We never knew the names of the men.  We never spoke except to one another.

 

A tureen filled with chicken soup arrived, the chicken feet with claws floating in the broth. The men would laugh as my sister and I politely declined to sample.  We waited for the rice and sweetened sauce of tomato beef. A waiter would pour us tea. The hot, sweet tea soothed. It was the tea’s unique aroma that arrested me.

As the meal came to its end, I would wait to discover my fortune, tucked away inside a curved, fragile, almond shell.  Carefully, I crack the shell and unfurl the thin, white scroll to reveal a truth.

You are an adventurer traveling on the highway of life.

Time passed and the meals in China Town ceased, dining out with my father came to an end. Perhaps I became interested in new events; perhaps my father became involved in other interests.  Still the fond memories of being in his presence stay.

The woman in the teashop smiles and asks,

“May I help you find a tea?”

“Could you? Let me describe it to you,” I reply.

“I know the one,” she says and reaches behind her to lift a golden urn from the shelf.

“It is an oolong tea.  Iron Goddess Mercy.”

The woman lifts the lid from the urn and offers it to me.

“Inhale,” she says.

I know in an instant that this is the tea of memory, a tea with a fitting name, Iron Goddess Mercy. A name that signifies indefeasible strength infused with kindness, compassion and grace.

Today the rain is relentless in its torrent.  Spring is hiding behind the edges of the forest.  It is a day for Mercy.  I fill the aluminum kettle with water and place it onto the stove’s element awaiting the water’s reluctant boil. I lift the tea tin from the shelf above the stove and open the lid, inhaling the leaves inimitable odor. Next, I place a small amount of the tea into the waiting infuser.  Placing the infuser into the teapot, I pour the hot water over the furled and balled leaves.

“Wake up, Mercy,” I whisper.  The lid rests upon the teapot; I know to give her time to mix magic.

I pour the tea into a mug and slowly sip the sweet flavor.  The rain steadily falls outside the window.  Inside, in this moment, I am warm for I have found my tea memory.

 

 

 

 

 

Layers

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Layers

When I recall my father I remember is eyes, the long almond shaped lids, their colour and clarity.  His eyes were the darkest green, unnatural actually, animal like in their brilliance and sparkle.  His hair was raven black, combed straight back from a high forehead.  These attributes were his best features along with an attractive expression.  He had youthful good looks and boyish charm which others found appealing.

“Never trust a man with a weak chin line,” my mother would later comment.   I would have to agree, she would know.

There was a presence about my father when he entered a room.  Aware that he possessed beguiling charm, he would captivate the crowd.  To say he had presence was an understatement.  My mother would sew her clothes from curtains and remnants, my father would have his suits hand measured and stitched by Modernize Tailors in Vancouver’s China Town.  Some claim that a great suit can make a man and it certainly was my father’s motto.

“Roy dresses better than the President of the company,” my mother would comment.

My father had aspirations of becoming a President of a company and reputation was everything.  He studied the look of success, choosing the basics of style for the era of the 1960’s and 70’s.  Suits made from the deepest navy blue cloth, burnished browns, or charcoal slate were his choice of fabrics.  He was slim and of regular height, the careful lines of tailoring made him look taller, the hand stitched jackets fitted to his strong frame, padded through the shoulders.

The pants were straight, pleated, and hung perfectly from his waist.  It was my father’s shoes that I admired, his brogues.  I would watch him as he slowly twisted the lid off the tin of shoe polish, gently pushing the soft cloth into the polish and applying it to the leather, the polish sliding across the top, back, and sides of the brogue.  After a bit, he would take out a clean cloth and polish the shoes to a brilliant gleam. It became my job to polish and shine his shoes placing them on the mat beside the basement door.

In his closet hung wool fabrics for winter and lighter mixed blends for summer.  Sometimes, I would enter his bedroom and open the closet door.  The suits would be neatly lined up, colour blocked, hanging in wait from wooden hangers. The blends and the tweeds beckoned touch; there was a luxurious depth to them.  The distinct scent of cigar drifted away from the clothing.

When my father began to vanish, he’d take items of clothing piece by piece as if they were evaporating.  Was he trying to trick us into thinking that he was still present?  Perhaps he was momentarily off course, his compass a suit in the cupboard, a direction finder for when he found his way back home.  I would realize he had finally left when opening the cupboard, it would be empty, the biting scent of cigar, gone.

Spring’s First Kiss

 

Sign of Spring!
Sign of Spring!

Spring’s First Kiss

 

 

     It is a glorious morning!  Tip toeing to the window I behold the splendor that awaits discovery outside the walls of this house.  Looking up towards the heavens, I behold a sky, awash in shades of blue grey.  A thin, long, after thought of a cloud stretched from here to there, as if with arms outstretched, much like a child’s posture of delight when the first flakes fall.  Today is a joyous announcement, a celebration of nature designed by the heavens above for the earth below.

“Winter is over! Welcome spring’s first kiss!”

For spring is shyly peeking from behind the corner of this winter world.  The vernal

Equinox when the plane of Earth’s equator passes the center of the Sun,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equinox

this gravitational pull, turning and tilting earth’s equator into place, almost ready to face the sun’s light.

We wait patiently for the sunbeam’s rays to warm us and gently whisper, “grow” to the curled up seedlings and the tender sprouts that sleep beneath a blanketed soil.  These coaxing whispers from the season urge all new beginnings to show off their emerging beauty to a forgetful world.

The twittering birds alight upon the feeder to discover a feast of seeds and suet.  Their joyful choir, the sing-song notes sent dancing forth through my open window.  The simple melodies urge us to follow the joyous lyrics.

It is a time for all life to bravely step forth into this wondrous world.   Behold the beauty that enchants us captured by spring’s first kiss.

The Snow Day

We sit together at the table and that is enough for us.  She holds her tattered blanket to her cheek.  The kitchen is cold, winter clings to the world outside the window.  Quiet surrounds the space as we imagine our day together.  It is a blank slate; there are no pressing commitments to keep.   It is ours to unfold and explore as we choose.

First, waffles for breakfast! Canadian Maple Syrup drizzled over the squares, the sweet taste, divine!  Glasses of orange juice to wash down the warm, soft, syrupy mixture, black coffee for me.  Blueberries fill a bowl. We exchange a glance and smile.  Our quiet, morning world is perfect.

She tells me this story.

“Last night I prayed for snow, so much that I would have to stay with you.”

I tell her that I prayed for snow too.  So much that I could keep her!  We would ignore the responsibilities of the coming days for just a brief while.

The flakes tumble-down from the heavens above as if to answer our prayers.  She gazes out the window and beholds the magical sight, nature’s winter encore. The snowflakes dance and twirl bespoke for one so innocent, so full of belief and dreams.

Bedecked in a cozy striped knit scarf and furry mittens, she twirls on the grass, arms outstretched to hug the gift scattered down from the heavens.  Snowflakes kiss her cheeks, land upon her small mittened hand.  An image of a tiny ballerina in an opened jewel box comes to mind.  Enchanted, she spins to a fairy’s beat.  For a brief time, nature will oblige. Winter’s charms and the gentle one play together.  A little snowman sits under the Maple Tree, a reminder of the moments spent within this fantasy snow globe.

We warm up inside the house and watch the snowflakes fall.

“Snowflakes are so beautiful,” she sighs.

“I wish they could fall forever.”

Do you want to build a snowman?
Do you want to build a snowman?