January 21, 2020

Childhood memories include reading tea leaves

Over the years people develop a fondness for memories of certain things that occurred during their formative years.

Things that you did when you were 7 or 8 years old may seem more deeply embedded in your mind than things that you did in your 30s or 40s.

Maybe it was the first time you rode your bicycle without training wheels or the first day of school or the first trick you ever taught your dog.

Childhood is a time when magic is real and a day is as long as a week and a lunar eclipse is as boring as it looks.

Smells and tastes that stand out in your memory may be difficult to recapture after you grow up. The more time that passes, the sweeter they become.

When I was about 4 feet tall there was an elderly woman who lived next door. She had a big old house where she lived alone. The only visitor other than myself was her granddaughter who came once a year.

Today I can only remember the elderly woman as Mrs. Something. She always fed me when I visited. Two dishes whose memory never seem to leave me are creamed spinach and a cream of something cereal.

Every new restaurant or recipe I try is with those two tastes in the back of my mind. I probably will never enjoy them again, but it’s a fun trivial quest.

Victoria Moores Austin, who owns Fieldstone Manor in Brewer, has a similar pursuit.

“One of my fondest memories of my grandparents when I was a little girl was the tea always brewing on the stove,” she said.

“After drinking the very black liquid, my Grampy would dump the tea leaves and read them to me. I would wait with anticipation to hear what would be happening to me tommorrow. Or would there be a stranger come into my life? I thought he must have some mysterious power which God had allowed him alone to hold.”

If anybody is familiar with this custom of reading tea leaves, Victoria would like to learn more about it. “I am sure there was an art to this,” she said, “but no one at the Manor can help me with this.”

Robbin Addams is a free-lance writer who lives in Bangor.

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