Tea at Dawn

The best time of a summer’s day is dawn. The air is fresh and cool, the sun is clear and bright and everything is enveloped in quiet and peace. Dawn is the only time for outside activities here on a day like today when the temperatures are in the 90s and the dew point is a sultry 70. Take advantage of the early morning to get together with friends for tea!

Start this tea party with some exercise to get the day moving. You could suggest a leisurely bike ride on a local trail. Or take them on an architectural tour of your neighborhood; scout out those little details we usually miss and show your friends. You could walk in the alleyways to sneak a peak at gardens or meet in the park for a jog (or to play on the swings while the little kids are still sleeping.) If that seems a bit too physical, invite a tai chi teacher to give a class in your back yard for your friends.

The reward for getting up early and exercising is a tea party afterwards. Invite everyone back to your house to continue the pleasure of the outdoors. Make the setting super casual on your patio or in your yard. A variety of lawn chairs, including loungers for those not used to moving, a serving table and some smaller tables scattered about work better than expecting people to sit close at one big table.

An old fashioned red and white checked tablecloth looks just right. Decorate with crocks filled with sunflowers. Wrap silverware in red and white napkins and stick in a clean Campbell’s Soup can. Simple metal pails can be filled with ice and used to hold bottles of water. Use blue splatterware plates if you have them; this is a popular summer paper plate pattern too. Red plastic plates from the grocery store will look good too. Ball jars with handles can hold the tea; pick some up at a dollar store. Remember, casual is the word.

Take a portable CD player outside but be considerate of neighbors at that hour. Make a mixed CD of morning songs, anything from Johnny Cash’s Sunday Morning Coming Down to Cat Steven’s Morning has Broken. Go classical with Beethoven’s 6th (Pastoral) Symphony or Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite. Or mix it up further with songs like It’s a Beautiful Morning, Angel of the Morning, I Feel Good, Amarillo by Morning or the very appropriate Good Morning from Singing in the Rain.

Ah, rain. That is definitely a consideration. Plan to invite your guests only a couple days in advance, after checking the weather report. Just give them a phone call or talk to them in person. The food for this tea party can be held easily if the weather predictor is wrong and it is raining the day of your tea.

If you want to give favors, present each guest with a goodie bag at the start of the morning’s activity. Little bottles of sunscreen, lip balm, moist towelettes that you’ve kept in the freezer, sweat bands, even goofy sunglasses are all things your friends might enjoy. It you want to go more expensive, give each guest a pedometer. To go less expensive, give everyone a bag of the homemade granola you served at the tea. Tie a glassine bag with raffia and attach an artificial sunflower.

Yep, homemade granola is on the menu. But for the other treats and the recipes, come back again tomorrow!