I’m still working my way through Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. The prose and story are far too good to speed-read. At my current place in the novel, Patchett’s main character Marina is on the Amazon River with her cohorts. Since my reading is nothing new, I’ll tell you what is—rain.
Today’s forecast is a stifling 101°F with isolated thunderstorms. As storms go in El Paso, the clouds bank on the horizon, rolling over the Franklin Mountains like a dark flock of fleecy birds. Next come the thunder and lightning and wind, deafening and ferocious. It’s not the same clap and strike that I’m familiar with from Virginia. It’s got a rattle to it like a snake’s tail. I can only assume it’s the sand being volleyed against the palm trees and scrub brush and rocky sierra running down the center of the city. The rain holds out through all of this. It waits for nature’s other elements to cartwheel over the desert. Only when darkness has completely blanketed us does the downpour begin. Fat drops that flood the street in minutes. As abruptly as it comes, the rain is gone–moving on to New Mexico and Arizona. Folks take notice of a storm here. It’s a circus in the sky, and we all go to our windows to watch and wonder.
Some days, it’s just as much about the teacup as the tea. I’m drinking a cup of Jin Jun Mei black tea. A friend gave me a couple scoops of loose leaves to try, and I must say, it is very good. The name translates to “Beautiful Eyebrow” because the dried leaf is long and thin like an eyebrow. It brews a cup that subtly reminds me of grilled pineapple–smoky but fruity. It boasts to be one of the highest-grade teas in China and it doesn’t disappoint. However, what I’m enjoying just as much as the sip is the teacup. I have a habit of buying teacup/mug couples from various places. I’m not prejudiced against where they come from except that they have to speak to me, specifically. (This precludes any gifts from family members who think I may want an “I love the Pennsylvania Dutch” mug from some road stand souvenir shop, which I do not. No offense to the Pennsylvania Dutch.) I’ve discovered cool cups everywhere from yard sales to Bloomingdales. But again, the cup has to be something that inspires me. Here are two of my favorites. I believe I bought them at Pier 1 Imports years ago. I love the light blue watercolor wash and delicate flower pattern. They’re made of clay, so they have the faint potter’s wheel striations and the velvety texture of unglazed earthenware.
Sarah’s Sipping Summary:
The book is set in Brazil, and I’m drinking Chinese tea from Asian-inspired cups. I could attempt some philosophical correlation here but truthfully, there isn’t much to go on. The rain, the book, the tea, the teacup—I suppose they’re all exotic in their own way. So if there must be a relationship, that’s the best I can come up with. Now, I’m going snuggle into my chair with Gilly and watch the summer storm roll over us.