Tea and Poetry

I’m grateful that most of our house guests cared for our daughter enough to want to encourage her independence and enthusiasm to serve and so they braved a sip when she offered them her own concoction of milk, salt, cinnamon, turmeric, and banana. But… Just so she can offer our guests some choices, we’ve been practicing making fruit tea. There are no transfer work in trays in our home; just real practical Practical Life like tong transfer of dried fruits and flowers from the tin to the strainer, ladle transfer of hot water from a bowl to the small teapot (we do this for now instead of pouring from a kettle), pouring tea into the cups. All that work fostering refinement of fine motor and coordination, order, concentration, and independence and also just helping us slow down and enjoy company—trees, birds, each other, and poetry.

While we wait for our tea to steep and cool a little, we read poetry. And we read some more as we enjoy our cuppa. Classics whose language is graspable and whose imagery is imaginable for our 4-year-old, here are some of the poems we read:

A Bird Came Down the Walk by Emily Dickinson

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Friends by Abbie Farwell Brown

Daffodils by William Wordsworth

Wind on the Hill by A.A. Milne

Afternoon on a Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I Know Why A Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

That last poem about a caged bird by Maya Angelou reminded me of this story that I thought I’d record here. One day we were in the car and along a road lined with trees but high up on one of the trees, hanged or tied to one of its branches, was a cage full of birds! And when our daughter saw this, calmly but firmly she said she will say this to the person who did that, “Open your eyes. Open your heart. Open the cage.” Repetition and rhythm, I thought it could be a line for a poem. Then amusingly, she changed her mind and said she’ll just say this to the person who caged the birds instead, “Close your eyes and I’ll open the cage!”

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