it was a joy to read your musings on the provenance of the string, thank you.
Annette Sibson [in the comments] and Trace Willans [by personal email] correctly named the substance the string had been twined from.
more appropriately, a Twining[s] tea bag.
so today two parcels will be winging their way - a piece of Milkymerino TM for each to dye as they see fit
- and no, for those of you about to ask, i have no idea at all when, if ever, that gorgeous fabric will be available for purchase. last i heard the mill was to be churning it out in March 2011. it's now 2012.
if i hear anything, be sure i shall spread the word!
meanwhile back to the matter at hand. we didn't quite reach the magical 900 in the matter of followers, so the random hat-based lucky dip is still pending.
but the story that touched me most - and let me tell you each one was lovely - was that written by Morna Crites-Moore
here it is in case you missed it.
Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. (Humbert Wolfe)
A Story by a Follower about a Wanderer
There was a little girl who lived in the woods and drank tea every day. If she was ill, she drank tea to feel better. If she was cranky, she drank tea to soothe her soul. If she was happy, she drank tea with a friend and shared her happiness along with her tea leaves. She had teas for waking up, going to sleep, purifying her innards, and decorating her outers. It seemed that she had special preparations of tea leaves for almost every possible occasion. When she created a particular recipe of herbs and spices and various tea leaves (collected on her many journeys), she would bundle the ingredients into a little pouch she made herself, usually from paper she created from the fibers she found while traveling in the woods of the world. She would fold her papers in special ways, so as to make them into safe packages for keeping her many teas. She loved her unique tea bundles and treated them as well as darling, albeit inanimate, pets. She stored the bundles in special tins and dark crystal vessels, with whimsical lids made of copper and silver and brass and encrusted with all manner of tiny treasures she found on her travels through her own particular patch of woods. She twisted vines into marvelous shelves to give her teas a proper home and when she made her special brews, she always sang to her tea leaves as they steeped.
This little tea loving girl had a proper name but nobody used it and in time nobody even remembered it, least of all her. This was because everybody had called her “Birdie” since forever, or so it seemed. There were many theories regarding how she came to be called Birdie. Maybe it was because she seemed to hop and flit as she went about her daily chores. Or it could have been because she loved to travel the woods of the world and would visit faraway places, often for very long stretches of time, yet she always found her way back home. Perhaps it was because of her sweet, chirpy little voice and her lovely melodies which she sang wherever she went. Nobody knows and truly, what does it really matter, except that it provides for interesting speculation on a lazy afternoon when one has not much else to think about. Although, come to think of it, when have you ever had an afternoon with nothing to think about?
When Birdie prepared for one of her voyages, she always gave careful consideration to which teas she would bring along. Having made her choices, she would create special little bags for her teas, much the same as her tea bundles, except smaller so that each bag contained enough tea for just one cup. She wrote the names of each tea on little scraps of fiber and then attached the little name tags to the teabags with lengths of her silky hair. Thus she made her tea wonderfully portable and she always knew which little tea bag contained “Sleepy Tea” and which contained “Friendly Tea” and so forth. On the road, after using a bag for brewing, she would let it dry and then she would write on its little tag a note to herself to remember where she had sipped it, such as “nestled in the branches of the big tree at the top of Nature’s Path” or “at the cabin next to the spring where I drank the delicious water.” She would store the spent tea bags in her much-used satchel (the one with the handles made from carved branches that had fallen in the woods) which she carried with her on trips, expressly for this purpose.
Once Birdie returned home she would set aside a day to take care of all her used tea bags. First she would remove all the tags and add them to a special collage she made in a never-ending fashion, to serve as a remembrance of the many places she had visited. She would set aside the wisps of hair, to be strewn about her yard for the birds to use when making their nests. She would carefully unfold the paper packets and shake the tiny tea leaves into a storage bin, for they were useful in many ways – as filling for a tiny cushion, to sprinkle on a fire for added aroma, steeped further to make a gentle dye, and so on. Finally, she would smooth out the little pieces of paper which were left behind and pile them up into a pretty little stack which she added to all the other little paper stacks which she kept in the big cupboard her grandmother had brought when the family first came to this particular patch of the woods.
Birdie lived a wonderful life, caring for her woods and exploring the world. But one day it became quite clear that Birdie was no longer a little girl. In fact she had become a very elderly little woman and her distant travels were now confined to Memory Lane. She would sit in her favorite chair and drink teas with names like “Good for the Bones” or “Soothes the Joints.” She was quite content with her quiet life and though she could no longer go on great journeys, she still enjoyed wandering in her particular patch of the woods, collecting bits of this and pieces of that, for adorning the frame which surrounded her very large and wonderful travel collage. It was on a day when Birdie was gazing at her collage and allowing it to brew memories in her mind, that she decided it was getting to be time to give back to the woods of the world, while she was still able to get about and do as she pleased.
It was autumn and the winds were swirling about, causing the leaves to dance in circles. The air carried the scent of the clouds and grew brisk as the tree branches grew bare. It was, Birdie decided, the perfect day for her final mission. She brewed herself a cup of “All Corners of the Woods” tea and sat drinking it, next to her wood stove, sitting in her favorite chair. The tea warmed her and enlivened her with just the spirit she needed to embark upon her special errand. She went to Sweetie’s big cupboard - Sweetie being the name by which her grandmother had been known, ever since Birdie had been a wee toddler and allowed to sip from Grandmother’s cup of “sweet tea” - and she retrieved the stacks of teabag papers which had accumulated in great numbers over the many years she had been saving them. She put the papers into her satchel, handful after handful until she could fit no more, which turned out to be perfect as when she was done there was not a single teabag paper left behind.
Birdie wrapped a shawl about her frail shoulders, picked up her bulging satchel, and ventured into the glorious autumn afternoon. She walked a bit, through her lovely woods, recognizing the trees as old friends. Eventually she found herself high on a hill, at the top of Nature’s Path. The big tree which had lived there since forever, or so it seemed, had dropped most of its leaves and they lay on the ground, fluttering about as the light winds stirred them. Birdie stood still, hunched over with age, and listened for the rising wind. As the wind grew in strength and the leaves swirled about in ever higher and higher spirals of joy, Birdie flung open her satchel and set free all her tiny pieces of tea paper. She watched as the wind picked them up and carried them off to all the corners of all the woods of the world. Then she shuffled her way back to her tiny cottage and sat in her favorite chair, next to the wood stove by Sweetie’s cupboard. And she smiled because she knew her memories would become windfall in a distant wood where they would be gathered by a woman who wandered the world.
And that, my dears, is the provenance of the tea bags which became India’s string.
her parcel is winging its way across the Big Pond. i hope she likes the contents.