Hillside Homestead

Seventh tea ceremony of 2020.

While setting up for tea ceremony today, Susan shared with me her early education in manners. “Knowing good manners, such as choosing the correct spoon at a formal place setting, is not to show off, but rather to make those around you feel at ease.” Good manners are about appropriate behaviors. Susan is a master of good manners and hospitality, concepts important in tea. While everything in the tea ceremony is choreographed and purposeful, the timing is paced specifically for the guests’ ease. Every movement embodies the attitude of “How can I make the best tea experience for my guest?”

So, with that in mind, I was off to a poor start. I was running more than 20 minutes late, something that really eats at me, tardiness. Arriving at Hillside Homestead in the afternoon, with the remains of the recent snow revealing a hint of spring mud, the beautiful landscape of hope, I totally let go of my agitation with myself. Susan cheerfully greeted me, un-phased by the shift in schedule. She is a woman full of tea.

We set up the tea space in Susan’s current favorite room, bathed in sunshine, between the back entrance and the huge vintage kitchen. Perfect. I brought forsythia from our yard that I had forced earlier in the week. It reminded Susan of a special friend of hers who passed away, Cynthia. As a child, Susan always thought forsythia were named for her friend, “For Cynthia.” Made me smile. Tea flowers for Cynthia! None of the art I brought really seemed to fit the space or mood, so instead we used a piece of wall art from her home. We chose a print of light Brahma chickens. Turns out they are a breed very dear to Susan. So, aside from being late, everything seemed to be coming together nicely.

Susan had invited a guest, who, earlier in the day had to cancel. She mentioned again that it was too bad Emily couldn’t make it. She sent her a quick text letting Emily know we were starting later than originally planned. Would she be able to join us now? Yes! My lateness made it possible for Emily to share tea ceremony with us today.

Monday afternoon Japanese tea ceremony at Hillside Homestead with Susan & Emily. The temae: chabako kasumi datte, single panel. The tea: Matcha Delight. The sweet: Japanese white aduki bean yokan. Light Brahma chicken art, and for Cynthia flowers!

As I packed up my tea things and set them on the porch, the sheep were bleating, the hissing of the tea water had died down, and kitty settled into the tea supply bag…

With gratitude,



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