Tea is Ready
My toes twitched as I tried hard not to slouch in the tall cushioned chair. Sitting at a table, set with a beautiful shiny white tablecloth that had tiny blue flowers sewn into it, I shook as I settled my twice washed hands politely beside my plate laid out with a chocolate torte and soft swirled butter cookies. We were to have coffee the same as the adults except my sister, brother and I had weak tea with lots of milk and sugar in our delicate tea cups which were white with garlands of tiny pink flowers. The adults sat in the front room and had their coffee from thin cups, smaller than our tea cups which looked hardly big enough for Vati to even hold it in his big hands.
Such was a visit to the home of Tante Valle. Where Tante had come from and how we got to be at her big house was a puzzle to me, but it was fun to go there. I would watch her as she would serve coffee to Mutti and Vati. Tante would move, slow and graceful, like she was doing a very special dance. Tante had the warmest soft green eyes which always had a smile in them, like my Jennifer kitten at home. Tante’s perfect blue white hair looked like the Queen Mother’s in a picture I had seen on the School wall. Tante Valle never ever forgot to say a special hello to me and give me a gentle hug after which I could always smell lilacs.
Her home was an adventure around the world. The ceilings were so high I had to put my head right backwards to see the top and you wanted to do that as Tante had big glass chandeliers that sparkled like diamonds. While waiting for the tea to be served I would go into the living room where my feet would sink up to my ankles in her emerald sea foam rugs that had curious designs that swirled and sprayed like the ocean.
In a curio cabinet in the corner were small sculptures of pure white sea shells in the shape of elegantly leaping dolphins and swooping sea gulls. Above them were dark wooden face masks looking haughtily from the wall.
I moved quickly from those. Then, in a glance, I found my favorites. Tante Valle’s collection of miniature porcelain dolls. Tante said porcelain is what they would make fine dishes from so I wasn’t to pick them up but I could look. I had never seen anything so perfect.
I sat on the floor in front of them to peer into their small ivory white faces painted with bright eyes, sparkly cheeks and tiny red smiling mouths. They had silky shinny red, gold and white dresses with all kinds of tiny birds and flowers embroidered on them. Their perfect petite hands carried small silk purses and tiny umbrella’s.
When the sun shone through Tante’s lacey white curtains the dolls looked golden like angels. Their stories never ended before the time came to say goodbye and follow Tante into the dining room for tea.