We have a big flowering cherry in our backyard that dazzles us each spring with its profusion of pink blooms. I’ve been monitoring its progress in recent weeks, from bare twigs to buds to tightly-furled blossoms. It seems now as if the slightest breath of a south wind would cause it to burst into life and color. I look forward to it every year, the blowsy, powder-puff blooms against the silvery bark, fallen petals mingling with the violets in the grass beneath. But I told my husband this morning as we surveyed it from the den window that I wished it would hold off one more week.
He gave me an incredulous look. Then a light of understanding dawned and he smiled. “You must be having a party.”
Of course, he was right–I am having a party next week to celebrate the visit of an old friend. It will be a reunion of sorts, a gathering of precious sister-friends, and I want everything to be perfect. A gorgeous spring evening. Lady-like fare and beautiful rose-flavored tea. And the cherry tree in full bloom.
A few years ago I hosted a tea party in honor of this very tree. We sat beneath its low hanging boughs, petals drifting into our tea cups, and savored its fleeting loveliness. We went through pot after pot of Earl Grey, discussing everything from the weather to the war. I never have to look far for an excuse to have a party, however small, but there was something about the utter simplicity of this particular day that makes it one of the dearest little fêtes I can remember. It felt wonderful to just pause in the sunshine for a while and be glad that the ‘flowers had appeared on the earth and the time of the singing of birds had come’.
Spring is definitely tea party weather. Whether you share it with a dear friend or two, or simply prepare an extra special little refreshment for yourself, I encourage you to brew up a pot–white, green, black or red–and find a golden patch of sunlight to enjoy it in. Maybe even under a flowering tree.
And no tea party would be complete without finger sandwiches! Here’s one of my favorite recipes:
- 1 (8 ounce) package softened cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
- 12 slices whole-wheat bread
- 1 English (seedless) cucumber
- 24 fresh basil leaves
In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and half-and-half until it is the consistency of soft butter.
Stir in the chives.
With a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter, stamp out two rounds from each slice of bread.
Spread the cheese mixture on the bread rounds, then top each with a slice of cucumber and a basil leaf.
Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. (My mother always places a damp paper towel over her tea sandwiches to keep them from drying out.)