You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~C.S. Lewis
A few years ago I was in Victoria, BC taking a week of respite in February. I should say, straight away, that Victoria is a great place to be in February. Catherinanne was on a chaplains conference in CFB Esquimalt at the time and I took each day and roamed the streets of Victoria finding interesting places to sit and read one of the three or four books I brought with me to keep my mind occupied. I found some great places, among them a great English Style Pub called Darcy’s.
I spent a day at Darcy’s – reading, eating and enjoying appropriate beverages – all different and all with suds on top. It was a great day! But alas, a man cannot spend 5 days drinking beer and eating fish and chips – although it would be fun to try.
So I branched out, and I found some different places to eat, to drink and to read. One of those places was the now 113 year old place called Murchie’s Tea. This very famous place in Victoria was a delightful place to get a great cup of tea and to enjoy a good ‘coffee shop’ atmosphere.
Again, being there was for me – time well spent and I was pleased to have those moments of solitude and serenity. Today I read the sad news in the Globe and Mail that this Canadian icon is going to close. (You can read the article by clicking here). It is no longer viable in an environment where Starbucks and other American interests have taken over. This was sad news for me. Catherinanne just came back from there a few weeks ago and one of the very thoughtful presents that she had in her bag for me was a box of Murchie’s Tea. I will savour every drop. It is sad that so many of our Canadian realities die away in the face of American consumerism. It baffles me really how that can happen. On a recent road trip from Philadelphia to Windsor, we stopped for a tea and a coffee at Starbucks on the Pennsylvania turnpike. I was shocked when the bill came to nearly $7.00. That is simply outrageous. But people seem obsessed with getting a ‘Starbucks’ coffee, or for that matter a ‘Second Cup’ or even a ‘Tim Horton’s.’ I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to this – we all seem sold on the BIG brands and we are all prepared to pay for it. In the meantime if a local Canadian institution has to increase it’s prices to keep up – there is a great cost to be paid. If it sounds like I am on a soapbox – I apologize. This is more of a lament than a sermon today folks and I convict myself of also participating in the great marketplace that often takes no prisoners. We all love to buy the tings that the mass media sell us – we are purchasing a way of life.
I enjoyed the uniqueness of that small Western Canadian business, and I lament the fact that it is about to become a part of antiquity. That day a few years ago as I read my book at Murchie’s, I was cognisant of my own comfort with the unhurriedness of my day. While I am so used to going at a fast pace, being still there put me in a place where I was imperturbable. I wish I could go back there, for even just one day. The great Buddhist teacher Thich Nat Hahn has a good philosophy about taking a tea break. “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” I think will go make a nice cup of Murchie’s Tea – not many left.