"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

May 18, 2011

Tea and Friends at Chickabiddy

Addie made her first batch of scones from a recipe from an old family friend.

A friend brought homemade blueberry jam!
I haven't thrown a tea party since the summer of 2008 in our old house in New Hampshire. A fellow writer and I hosted it and had great fun putting together the menu, preparing the food, setting up the party and adding just the right Emily Post touches. The premise was that it was to have been a chapter in a book that did not materialize––however, I more enjoyed the many friends who were gathered, as well as the preparations. It was a last "hurrah" in the house that had been our home since our marriage in 1996 (and in my husband's family since 1959). [You can read my "Tea for Forty With Emily and Friends" blog post here.]

Lemon squares are still my favorite tea party item to make.

Post-party posing on May Day with some leftovers!
Our daughter, who will be 23 in June, visited us for a nice month between resort seasons. She "left home," in that ubiquitous sense, a few days before we moved to Kentucky on July 31, 2008. It was our last time altogether in the New Hampshire house, which we closed on a few months later and to which my husband returned in early September to finish packing. So we all not only left home in all ways, we left our daughter (and sister) behind and each of us left our familiar. Talk about Empty Nest hitting with a vengeance! That first full year, settling in here, was a bit brutal. I felt disjointed and strange. This would morph and change for the next few years (perimenopause likely hasn't always helped things, either).  I finally know in my bones that this is home––that our new roots are starting to take hold and spread into the earth.

Almost three years later, Addie has made her own life for herself. She has held several seasonal jobs and just returned to a full-time, year-round position (with benefits!) at the resort where she works. She has her "family" in and near her workplace which is reassuring because she lives 1,100 miles away from us, entirely self-supporting apart from the occasional gifts we send her way. We are immensely proud of her. This visit reconfirmed for us that we are still a connected family unit, despite the distance and our separate worlds now.

As a mother and a woman, this visit was so reaffirming to me––to all of us––and for our daughter it provided a more rooted sense and picture of our new home. It is hard to leave your physical home at twenty and never have that same home to return to again. Here we have been able to improve and build upon what we once had: our gilded cage, in many respects, has been replaced by what matters and the comfort of each other. Families are so complex and I hold fast to my husband and children while knowing I can also stand as an individual, too. That my daughter can do that and be on her own, even better than I could at her age, is one of the most gratifying things I have experienced.

If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams, and endeavors to live the life that one has imagined, one will meet with a success uncommon in common hours.   ~ Henry David Thoreau

I love my Anchor Hocking "Lido" set.
Our month-long visit (oddly from April 12 to May 12!) as a family was so cohesive and good, with only a few bumps of reentry, and the tea party that we prepared together was one of many highlights. I never did make a pot of hot tea this time around, but we enjoyed lavender lemonade and iced, sweet tea with some of Ida's mint that grows near the back door. 

I'd been planning this event for many months as a celebration of the cottage being finished (more or less––of course, I didn't show anyone my unfinished office and many books have not been unpacked). Also, I knew my daughter would be here to meet everyone and I wanted to celebrate May Day! It just seemed the right time before hay and produce season when we, and so many of our friends, are busy on their own farms.

Nasturtium blossoms make a fine, edible garnish for tea sandwiches.

Each one of my friends, even those who could not attend the party, spoiled me rotten with a very lovely cottage gift. I am blessed, and appreciative, beyond words! Chickabiddy Cottage is now well-christened. Besides, a party is always a good excuse to have your friends visit and to use your best stuff. Some were even able to stay until the wee hours of 9pm, when they realized it might be a good idea if they headed home again to their own families (my husband Temple provided excellent cab service for our Mennonite friends).

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.  ~ Kahlil Gibran

For one suspended and quite rainy Sunday afternoon on May Day, apart from the world and its troubles, we gathered around a table at the center of our cozy small cottage parlor on a ridge in Kentucky. [That table––if you'll allow me a Hyacinth Bucket moment––once belonged to Queen Victoria's son Prince Arthur, who was transferred to Canada, or so the family story goes.] We spent the time eating, talking, laughing and just being together. It doesn't get much better than that––I even left the dishes for the next day.

You come back when you're ready!



  1. It was a beautiful tea! I'm so glad Addie could be here for it. I'm so glad I got to share it with you and yours. Thank you!

  2. Your daughter is lovely, as was this post. I'm so glad your Kentucky seeds have taken root. Destiny

  3. Thank you Mom...it was a wonderful visit. I'm proud of you too :)


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