Many teapots are prized possessions and may carry more than a lovely Earl Grey or English Breakfast, they often contain fond memories that enrich our lives.
During my childhood, I would peer into the family china cabinet at an old, cottage tea set complete with cream and sugar, jam pot, and butter dish. It was adorned with pretty flowers and had a thatched roof, and to me they seemed the most special pieces of china in the whole world. When peering at the fragile teapot I imagined a village in the country dotted with similar little cottages and it made me appreciate simpler times and a life closer to nature. I still treasure that brown and yellow set, and recall admiring it and the imaginative thoughts it evoked when I was young.
Another shiny, beautiful gold and navy blue teapot was also on display in that cabinet, along with a brown one, decorated with hand-painted flowers. I still possess these teapots and sometimes wonder how many cups of tea were served from them? How many friendships strengthened over the bond of conversation during tea time?
In university, my best friend and I studied hard in our respective disciplines but when needed, we would gather our tea and Triscuits and have a private, little tea party in Allanburg Lounge, a rarely-used area apart from the noise and bustle of our residence. It was a time to relax and laugh, and not that we knew it then, it was a time to build the foundation of a friendship that has lasted more than 30 years. When my friend married, I presented her with a gift of a bright, yellow teapot – an everyday vessel that would remind her of our many tea breaks during our undergrad years. Despite the distance, I visit several times a year and we always have our tea using this bright, sunny teapot, a salute to our days at Brock.
Another one of my favourite teapots reminds me of my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Ternovan. I was so happy when she passed it along to me and I treasure it not just because it is lovely, but because of who it came from. I am the person I am today because of my godparents who raised me (and left me the teapots mentioned above) but also the many mentors who influenced me and helped shape my values and morals. Joanne was one of those teachers and whenever I hold the handle of this decorative pink and blue piece, I smile because I know I was cared for by so many kind people with gentle, nurturing souls.
More recently I have been involved with Purses with a Purpose, a popular fundraiser of the Zonta Club of Chatham-Kent and the Chatham-Kent Public Library. As co-chair of this event, it was a challenge to ensure we had enough teapots to serve over 100 guests – but folks love teapots, teacups, and all the trappings of a tea party, and the event always came together and went well. Funds were raised and somehow over the years I have amassed a few more teapots and a good number of teacups. They have less history than the pots I inherited, but when I see these newbies of my collection I am proud of my involvement with this event and the pleasant memories entwined with these larger, community-minded tea parties.
My lovely teapots have stories attached to them and using them is more than just functional, they are the gateway to precious memories. What is the story behind your favourite?
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Wanda Bell recently opened a small tea room called Mrs. Bell’s Tea Room, located at 11 3rd Street in downtown Chatham.