A box of tea
Do you drink coffee? I've tried, and I've come to the conclusion that there are two types of people in this world: coffee drinkers, and those who wish that coffee tasted even a little bit as good as the promise of its smell.
I fall squarely into the latter category.
It's a wonderful smell, coffee, rich and thick, smelling like an olfactory cross between velvet, chocolate, and good shoe leather. A mug of coffee is possibly the only single object in the world capable of warming a pair of cold hands faster than a snuggling, purring cat; there's something comforting about the warm haze of steam rising from the cup to your face as you prepare to drink.
Its aficionados tell me that the experience of drinking the coffee is just as good is the ritual of preparation that comes before it. I cannot vouch for that. My perfect cup of coffee sits in my hands, perpetually radiating warmth from mug to skin, sending trails of scent to my nose, and never once touches my lips.
In my family, coffee was a supremely male drink, not because of superiority or a particular suitedness to the male psyche, but simply because my mother and my grandmother didn't drink it. How odd, these memories, to capture that my grandfather drank his coffee from an old white cup (so vividly that even now, so many years after his death I can still picture him holding it), but not to capture what he put in his coffee.
If there is such a phenomenon as a "Southern drink," sweet tea is it; that particularly pungent beverage rendered cold and sticky-sweet by the addition of more sugar and ice than can possibly be good for any small planet. I sometimes think our predilection for that exaggeratedly sweet drink spoiled many of our palates to expect sweetness with all beverages.
Even now, in my mid-twenties, I am only just now beginning to teach myself to like 'grown-up' beverages. It has been about seven years since Sperry first handed me a cup of peppermint tea, sweetened with honey, to me to help ease a sore and scratchy throat. Gareth's accidental[?] leaving of a box of tea at the house this year certainly has not hurt, and Misty's none-too-secret stash of herbal teas finished the onslaught.
About two months ago I found myself staring at a tea aisle, marveling at the packs of boxes that had undoubtedly been there for years, waiting for me to discover them. I came home with a box of the Mandarin Orange Spice tea I had tasted at Misty's.
It was soon followed by another box or two of tea. Settling down in the evening with a pen, a notebook, and a cup of tea quickly became something of a ritual. As long as no one asks me how much sugar's in the tea, it's all good.
Maybe someday I'll work my way up to coffee.