In our household tea is not a luxury, it is an everyday necessity. There is always a fresh pot in the morning to start the day, sometimes one around eleven, though often we have coffee at this time, accept father who doesn’t drink coffee but once in a blue moon, and then four o’clock tea.
For as long as I can remember, tea has been part of our life. Father always had his tea mug, which changed fairly frequently, either with the latest gift, or when it got broken, but the mug was always big. Father takes honey and cream in his tea (cream as in milk), but mother just has cream. And so it has passed down; all the gentlemen in our family drink their tea like father, with perhaps one exception, and all the girls take theirs like mother.
Last year I was with my four younger sister in the first group to arrive on a camping trip to Hells Gate State Park on a warm summer day. We arrived at about four o’clock in the afternoon and set up camp, including the propane stove because no matter if it was nigh 100 degrees, I wanted my afternoon cup of tea! We set up a very cute little camping area, with white wooden boxes, stainless steel dishes and donned adorable aprons.
Then came the propane stove. I had never actually set up a propane stove before, but how hard can it be? We got the stove set up and turned it on, put on a pot of water and started worrying about the funny smell. All safety conscious, that aroma was not right, so we kept a close eye on the stove, thinking back over the setup and worrying. Pretty soon I noticed the flame, not from the burner, but from the feed valve from the cylinder. Aught, oh, we have a problem.
I wasn’t certain just shutting the propane off was such a good idea, that cylinder had me a little worried, the last thing I wanted was to create an explosion. We had a fire extinguisher, but was that going to work? Now is when you call your brother, who is very fortunately a volunteer Firefighter.
(Don’t let that volunteer fool you, those guys have to have all the same basic certification as the paid guys, they volunteer countless hours, and they don’t get paid. Go volunteers!)
After much discussion, my brother said to go ahead and wait for the park people to arrive, which some of my sisters had gone speeding off to get. This was dry Idaho, we didn’t want to be responsible for starting a wildfire. Now, don’t ask me why the guys in the camping space almost directly across from ours didn’t come over and at least offer some assistance. It would have seemed to me that the casual observer would have realized we had a problem.
Anyway, my sister and I were watching the fire gradually getting larger and larger until the entire stove was engulfed in flames. My brother had told us to use the extinguisher if it got too bad, and at that point I decided we had reached the too bad stage and told my sister to hit it. And she did, with great delight, since she has always wanted to use an extinguisher.
The young Park Ranger did eventually arrive and he disconnected the propane cylinder and told us they had been having trouble with that particular type of stove (I don't know, we've had the stove for years with never any trouble. Did we not hook it up right?). I thanked him for his assistance and told him, “All I wanted was a cup of tea!”
Hot weather, hot tea. We’re talking Idaho – do you think he was worried he’d strayed into a female nut house?
He can think what he will, there I times if I didn’t have a nice cup of tea, I would go nuts!
If it’s a bad day around our house, we refer to it as a whole pot day. In other words, one person could drink the whole pot! This goes back to an old family story about a grandmother having difficulty changing a baby and when she was done, she made herself a pot of tea, “and drank the whole thing.”
I understand perfectly.