Flagging from a long, drizzly walk through some of the more haunted streets of Providence last weekend, I stopped in at Tealuxe, a cozy corner café near the Brown campus, with tall black cabinets stocked with rare tea and a staff with serious attitude towards the right temperature and steeping times.
A small pot of Royal Coconut Oolong Pouchong revived my spirits, spurred my imagination, and got me through the final fifty pages of Elevation, by Stephen King.
Despite being dark of leaf for an oolong, which usually means an acidic and heavy taste, this tea had a light, bright flavor brought out by the coconut. Hints of pineapple combined with the smoky flavor of the oolong to summon scents of a luau, or rows of fruit plants cultivated in lush jungle. This is characteristic of pouchong, apparently, which looks more oxidized than it is. So you get all the lightness of a greener oolong with all the floral notes of a darker one.
A new favorite, for sure. I have a package on its way to my in NYC.
Broad mouthed cup in a color to let you see the tea’s hue, slop bowl, precise steeping time, and en easily removable basket with the leaves. Bravo, Tealuxe.
I am sick, so I’m spending the day listening to the rain, dozing, and reading ghost stories. These lines from one of my favorite Auden poems capture my mood. How appropriate for the weekend before Halloween?
Hope you’re well.
After waiting two weeks, I finally tapped out a response to a text from my cousin Bevan. It was an important text and my silence had made me more anxious each day, something I hadn’t noticed because my attention had been so focused on work. In my sudden leisure just moments before my friends and I began to explore Salem, the weight of all the messages from friends and family that I had neglected dropped down on me.
In anxious moments like these, I’ve learned that even the tiniest action can lift what seems like an unmovable burden. Bevan’s text was foremost in my mind, so I chose to respond. My anxiety was exorcised, and I felt free to explore.
In the course of exploring, we stopped in at a teashop one street over from Salem Common. There is just enough room inside for a few tables and floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with jars of tea. Madeleines and macarons are for sale, which fit in with the Parisian decor. I sat down with a cup of Witch’s Brew (black tea with aromatic herbs) and my eye was drawn to tiny portrait in a frame over a few books. A sign read “The George Whitman Memorial Library.” I almost spit out my tea.
My cousin Bevan had written a short essay on her time with George, which had been included in a book commemorating his Paris bookstore, Shakespeare & Company. It’s a site of literary pilgrimage. I’d made a point of going there in my 20s. Bevan herself had lived in the rambling upper floor of the store and been one of George’s last assistants and, as her lovely essay shows, a friend to the eccentric old man. He’d sheltered generations of young bohemians like her.
Why was this little node connecting Paris and Bevan tucked away behind some jars of tea in a little shop in Salem? George, the sign informed me, had been a Salem native.
My message to Bevan had inadvertently conjured the spirit of George to give his blessing to the moment and the day.
It’s not often these days that I get to write in places that aren’t my office, but today is one of them. Some deadlines converged unexpectedly and in order to meet them I need to be in a place where my co-workers can’t find me. Since my co-workers are in the habit of opening up the doors of conference rooms where I am working alone, in a corner, in the dark, with headphones on, that means fleeing the office entirely.
New York does many things poorly (square footage, being roach-free, public transit, politeness, smelling good, etc.) but one thing it does well is neat little street level cafés to work in, like Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, where I am alternately typing these words, and gazing out over my screen at the humanity loitering, ambling, stumbling, strutting, and zipping by. Venturing out into the world for my working day keeps me lively in a way that writing in my garret doesn’t.
And if you’re wondering what’s in the mug to the right of my computer, it’s a cup of Earl Gray, naturally.
Note the classic combo of red brick facade and black iron fire escape over my little window.