You’re in the cottage’s kitchen helping your host make tea blends by mixing tea leaves with dried herbs and flowers picked by hand from her idyllic garden. From a wooden cabinet above you select a robin egg blue stoneware bowl, and grab the wooden measuring spoons hanging by the kitchen sink window. You scoop out 2 teaspoons of Darjeeling tea, 3 teaspoons of Assam tea, and 1 teaspoon of dried rosebuds from old tea tins by the stove. You hold the bowl up to your nose, close your eyes, and inhale the rich, malty, floral notes.
You smile looking at all the concoctions you and your host created today, all stored in Mason jars circled with twine strung through a small piece of brown paper bearing the tea’s name. Your host sets down the jar of rose breakfast tea next to the others lined up on a counter where the sunlight is not too bright: jasmine green, hibiscus mint, lavender Earl Grey, peony white, ginger chamomile, and peach oolong. You are at peace after a lovely day of working with your hands to create beautiful, comforting teas.
Your host gathers up extra jars of tea she made before your visit. She’s off to take a long walk and give tea to her neighbors. Once again, she tells you to make yourself at home. You fill the copper kettle with water and set it on the stove, turning on blue flames of gas. You gaze through the newly cleaned window panes, admiring sunshine, blue sky, birds flitting about from tree to tree, a rainbow array of flowers, grassy hills, and rabbits happily hopping about.
As the water boils you walk over to the wall of stoneware mugs hanging from wooden pegs. There are so many beautiful colors and shapes, but your eye lands on an inky blue belly mug. You place a silver tea strainer on top and scoop in a teaspoon of jasmine green. The kettle whistles, and you pour the steamy hot water over the strainer, the scent of jasmine soothing you. You stir raw honey into the mug, carrying it with you as you walk barefoot across aged wooden floors to your room to read.
You look around your cozy room with gratitude. Light streams through the large window adorned with gingham curtains. The bed covered in a handmade quilt and fluffy pillows seems to call to you as does the overstuffed suede armchair draped with a wool blanket that sits beside the built in bookshelf.
The fresh lavender you picked earlier sits in a mason jar upon the antique side table, sending a delightful fragrance around the room. Beside it rests a lamp, an amber glass candle, matches in a glass apothecary jar, and a white tin. You lift the lid of the tin to find homemade shortbread cookies, such a kind gesture from your host.
You set your mug on the side table, strike a match on the bottom of the apothecary jar, and light the candle. Calming notes of earthy lavender and cedar waft up around you. You pull soft, fluffy socks out of the wooden chest at the foot of the bed and place them on to your chilled feet.
As you take a bite of a cookie, the cottage’s gray cat, Jasmine, walks out from behind the gingham curtains where she had been napping on the window sill. She gracefully hops to the floor, now weaving between your legs, nuzzling you with her head of silky soft fur. You pull open the curtains and take in the late, golden afternoon light.
You cradle your warm mug of tea and blissfully gaze at the rough hewn bookshelves filled with old leather and cloth bound books - classic novels, poetry, botany, history, art. Knicknacks cozy up the scene including little ceramic hedgehogs, chipped bone china tea cups, cobalt blue jars holding bird feathers found on daily walks, and small bundles of dried lavender tied up with twine.
You slowly run your finger along the books’ spines, many of the titles printed in gold. You close your eyes and choose a book at random. You open your eyes, delighted to see a vintage edition of Pride & Prejudice with gilded page edges.
You flip through the yellowed pages of this beloved story. The vanillin scent of old paper makes you swoon. You smile as you recall a favorite line of Mr. Darcy’s, “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
You pull another book off a shelf, admiring the gorgeous marbled end pages. Your heart swells with gratitude for all of these books filled with poetry, prose, and possibility.
Your bookish intuition guides your eyes to the red spine of a worn, well-loved edition of Heidi, one of your childhood favorites. On the cover is the cute little girl, one of her goats, and the Swiss alps behind her, etched in white.
You curl up on the suede armchair, your feet tucked beneath you, leaning on the right arm of the comfy chair. As you read Heidi once again, the whole story is instantly familiar. One of your favorite parts is when Heidi’s dear friend, Clara, who could not walk, was healed by visiting Heidi’s home on the mountain with her cantankerous, yet loving, Grandfather. Clara is healed by the abundant sunshine, fresh air, and goat’s milk.
The gray cottage cat hops into your lap and purrs loudly as you scratch under her chin. She settles down to sleep, and you rest your eyes too and ponder the story. Your longing for simple living in the countryside was inspired by this childhood book. You still believe that sunshine, a cool breeze brushing your cheek, and fresh food and drink tended by hand are healing indeed.
You open your eyes. As you watch the sunlight dim and the sky burst with hues of deep pink and purple, you hug the book to your chest with one hand, and eat another cookie with the other. You take the last sip of tea, vowing to make time in the book nook a daily ritual.