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road works: how to make tea properly

The workmen finished our street this week. They've been here six weeks. When I got back from the school run this morning, they'd gone. The street was empty and quiet, the pavement clear, the road uncluttered.

I miss them. I miss the guy in the white hard-hat with the smiling brown eyes who helped me and Talitha and buggy and bike over the deep clay-sided pits to safety. I miss his jokes about my shopping bags and his asking “Where’s babs?” when Talitha wasn't around.

I miss the beeping of the dumper truck and the judder of the drill, the clang of the digger bucket and the chink chink of the pick axe, the shouts of the men.

Really!

I do.



But I'm pleased at the return of the quiet sound of the street as well. I like to hear the pigeon comfort itself with gentle coos in the hundred-year-old oak opposite and Stuart slam his car door and the rag and bone man shout on the street next to ours and Carol turn her key in next door's lock after a day at work and call to Maddie, her dog.

All things I couldn't hear with the workmen there.

Recently, I've been practising making tea slowly:

Being here, now, today, this minute.

Listening.

Being in the moment.

Not always thinking of the next: there, then, tonight, tomorrow. Where else I could be... What other things I could be doing... rushing making a cup of tea so I can get to the chat, rushing the dishes so I can get to bed, rushing the school run to get back home, hurrying Talitha through her hesitant, stumbling, repeating explanations and Saffy through her long complicated speeches to get to her point, if there ever was one.

In tea-making, there is a pause. Don't unload the dishwasher while you wait for the kettle. Smell the scent of the tea. Listen to the kettle water muttering. Hear the chink of the cup as you take it from the shelf.

I reach up for the sugar jar and remember when Mark and I bought it, on a wedding anniversary, after two hot chocolates piled high with cream at Whitley Garden Centre. I get a teaspoon from the drawer and it's one of those that doesn't match that Talitha loves so much, and I wonder where it came from and if it's one of Drummer Drakey’s, picked up by accident when we were washing up together in the outside sinks at the campsite near Pateley Bridge. And that reminds me of when Mark and I took our campervan to Harden Beck on a sunny May Bank Holiday and parked it in the field by the waterfall and a blackbird sang loudly from the branch of a tree, and we decided, in the silence after a blazing row about nothing, that after 10 years of marriage we would at last try for children. And that makes me thankful. Thankful, for my children, for their health and their beauty and their long-winded never-getting-to-the-point speeches.

The kettle clicks off.

All this from the making of tea. All this in a minute. All this to be missed in the hurry past the moment.

Read last month's post: mother holle's eiderdown

Emma is a columnist and feature writer for Liberti Magazine.

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