Monday, September 27, 2010

On, In and Around Mondays: Eating Breakfast with Jane Austen

Tea with Jane Austen

Sun reflects off autumn walls, glints on the golden rim of my teacup.

We are in the dining room for breakfast.

I am drinking rooibos tea. My girls are drinking green. We are eating bagels and reading Tea with Jane Austen.

Ours is a rich person's English breakfast. At least in Victorian times. The working class would have had meat on the table, and beer. Tea was a privilege. Jane Austen was the family keeper of theirs. She held the keys to its locked cupboard; after all, tea was expensive.

Drinking my rooibos, and the girls their green, it is hard to imagine the need to lock up our morning drink. It is hard to imagine that the expense of tea drove the English to empty their coffers until the country experienced a trade deficit. It is hard to believe that the government's solution was to offer opium to China, to try to settle the economic score.

Tea. It seems so innocent, here in the dining room for breakfast, and on the pages of Jane Austen's novels.

We laugh at the quotes about Mr. Woodhouse (from Emma) and Arthur Parker (from the unfinished novel, Sandition). Parker, hoping to impress a woman, shares, "I reckon myself a very good Toaster; I never burn my Toasts— I never put them too near the Fire at first—& yet, you see, there is not a Corner but what is well browned."

My littlest daughter decides we must toast our toast this way, come winter. We have a fireplace. She wants to drink tea, and dress up Victorian, and sip from painted porcelain cups. What does she know of China, and economics, of opium and locked cupboards. What does she know of tea. Except that we are drinking it in an autumn dining room, with the sun shining off golden rims.

Tea With Jane Austen photo, by L.L. Barkat.


On, In and Around Mondays (which partly means you can post any day and still add a link) is an invitation to write from where you are. Tell us what is on, in, around (over, under, near, by...) you. Feel free to write any which way... compose a tight poem or just ramble for a few paragraphs. But we should feel a sense of place.

Would you like to try? Write something 'in place' and add your link below. If you could kindly link back here when you post, it will create a central meeting place. :)

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Blogger TraciB said...

Wonderful post - I could see the scene and imagine your daughter's enthusiasm as she insists on having tea and toast as they would have in one of Jane's novels.

Like your daughter, I didn't know about the tea/opium connection. It's sad what people will do to feed their addictions (the English and their tea, I mean).

Thanks for an entertaining and informative read this morning. Makes me wish I had a cup of rooibos and my copy of Emma here.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Ann Kroeker said...

The other day, I opened a tea bag and stuck it in a travel mug, but wasn't able to actually steep the tea in hot water--the string hung out and the bag was dry and unused. I had set the mug to the side of the sink and expected to use it the next morning.

But the girls, meaning to help, were washing the dishes by hand and tossed the unused tea bag into the compost bowl without a second thought.

Perhaps I should start locking up my tea? Not because it could be stolen, but because others don't value it enough? :)

I'm sipping a cup of PG Tips, thinking of you.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I like this post very much. If you do a Victorian tea and toasting-- you must share pictures. :)

10:27 AM  
Anonymous sarah said...

so lovely. your dds are very lucky.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous HisFireFly said...

I'd love to sit and spend a few moments there with you, sipping tea and praising Him!

1:36 PM  
Anonymous heather said...

Oh, I must get this book!

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Sandra Heska King said...

Oh, I need this book now, too!

And I'm with Karin. Enjoying tea with you would be a joy!

Linking up. :)

3:35 PM  
Anonymous kingfisher said...

My link is up. Sour Kool Aid Sweetened by God's Mercy.

We forget history so quickly. The significance of tea -- the arrogance of the British who claimed India as the exclusive right for the East India Tea Company and expected to monopolize the tea trade and world trade.

The significance of it being tea that was taxed in America which led to the American Revolution. That England would again expect her luxuries to be paid for by others.

And then the final salvo and hubris, fighting the Boxer Rebellion to force China to accept opium as a return cargo, so the British could make money on both inbound and outbound cargoes.

May the Lord have mercy on us all.
May he guide us to seek peace, not war, and hope for all, not power struggles for the few.

Perhaps we need to keep reminding people that history happened. And a lot of it wasn't pretty. How may we serve our Almighty God in a way that shows his lovingkindness instead of our right to be someone super privileged?

God bless you today, Laura. I hope you've recovered from your foray into the realm of unhealth. And may God have deep mercy and concern for the many who cant shake off unhealth and go back to more normal activities.

6:05 PM  
Blogger CM said...

What a nice memory your daughters will have, enjoying tea with you.

I linked up for the first time. I'm not much of a poet, so I guess mine could fall under the "ramble for a few paragraphs" catagory! :-)

6:20 PM  
Blogger Nancy Kelly said...

Thank you - lovely post. The whole opium issue really bothers my brain. I'm reading about the Romantic poets - so many addicted - Coleridge in particular. I recently finished The Good Earth and those images haunt me...But Victorian tea, I'll gladly partake!

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Victoria said...

Accidently happened upon your blog through Monkey Man and just love it. I will follow, if you don't mind. Blessings

7:08 PM  
Blogger Michelle DeRusha said...

This reminds me of drinking tea with sugar cubes from my Nana's porcelain cups when I was a little girl. She let us choose our own cup from the collection -- I always chose the bodoirish (I know I am misspelling that) one -- black background splashed with red roses. Oooh la la.

11:19 AM  

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