Last Saturday was our final class of 2008. It’s really amazing to see the change in the house over the seasons. In the summer, we open all the doors and have lessons in the 15-mat room to take advantage of as much air circulation as we can manage. In the wintertime, we’re all shut into the small tearoom, and even the doors that we’d normally have open are shut to keep the heat in. The house gets incredibly quiet – all the better to hear the water boiling in the kettle. It feels like the rest of the world is a thousand miles away.
The past couple of weekends the tsukubai – the water basin outside the tearoom where guests can wash their hands before coming in – had a thin sheet of ice on the top. The pond wasn’t quite frozen, but getting there. Inside, we were trying to think warm thoughts while we waited for the tea water to heat up. The tearoom does have electricity, but not heat, so the outlets have to support not only the electrical element for the kettle but a space heater also. Sometimes they don’t play well together.
But on the last class, all of our regular students were able to make it, and we had a lovely surprise visit from one we hadn’t seen in a while. The students from our beginner’s class were just wrapping up a twelve-week introduction to tea, and they did a fantastic job. It’s always fun to watch their transition from knowing nothing about tea to being able to do a tea ceremony from beginning to end. It gave everything a feeling of completion.
We’ve got a long winter break coming up, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no tea. Everybody practices in their own way, from doing tea on their own to studying books to working on their cooking or sweet-making. And we’ve got the memory of the warmth in the tearoom to carry us through the New Year. I with you all the same joy and good company throughout the holidays!