Reflection with Trees in My Orange Blossom Oolong

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When I switched over from drinking coffee to tea for the year 2013, the act was born from an intention to create more custom and private rituals in my life; things that would become important to me and elevate the sacred moments I often take for granted. From a high speed and jittery caffeine mentality to a slow and ponderous outlook, I began the transition into enjoying the present more than the projected future.

This past weekend the Cute Gardener and I took a trip South and planned a day of bike riding around the cities of La Jolla, Pacific Beach and the entire Mission Bay. We kicked off the ambitious agenda with a visit to Michele Coulon Dessertier for a massive slice of shared carrot cake and a cup of orange blossom oolong. We enjoyed the snack under a cluster of leafy trees on a perfect Southern California morning, adjacent to a fluffy dog who resembled a bear with soulful bedroom eyes tied up not too far from us.

The icing on the carrot cake was special in that a normal layer of cream cheese frosting was further accented by a faint dusting of semi-translucent rainbow colored glitter – almost invisible like the inner whorls of a mother of pearl shell. It added a sweet kick to an otherwise traditional cake of organic carrots, walnuts, butter and pineapple. I was reminded of a few months back when I stood in the kitchen of my friend Charlotte’s house while she made “fairy bread” for her daughter Camilla’s birthday party. “Fairy bread” is an import from Charlotte’s Australian upbringing that basically consists of basic slices of white bread slathered with butter and covered in colorful sugar sprinkles that create a kid’s crunchy idea of heaven. Of course, when the sandwich slices are opened up after the sprinkles have all had a chance to melt and ooze together, you are also left with a vibrant swirl of magical hues.

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The rituals passed down to us by creative mothers are important to carry on lest they be lost to that place where other things like elves and pixies and Santa Claus retire. When I was young, every Valentine’s Day, the “love boat” would visit overnight just like the Easter Bunny. In the morning, my sister, brother and I would find baskets full of candied hearts, chocolate truffles, and love-themed Ad Libs on our kitchen table. This is something I in turn performed for my own daughter as she was growing up.

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And then there are the rituals between you and the person you love that you carve out individually and make your own. Like the way the Cute Gardener and I stake out the places we are planning to visit in order to find a special hike or bike ride we can take together. And then the way, he always takes extra measure to find a simple sandwich type shop for us to visit as we start our ride to buy a snack for that moment mid-trip where we are going to want to take a stop and enjoy the view of exquisite nature and fuel up for the rest of the walk or ride.

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Creating special rituals beyond the societal norm of holidays and momentous events is the meat of life. As we spent the rest of the day riding 22 miles through tiny hippie beaches, cold boardwalks, sunny patches of suburbia and then around a placid body of water marked by various parks and intermittent patches of sprawling and sparse terrain; I experienced a moment of gratitude in the fact that today, my rituals are my own and they are many.

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