Saturday, 16 July 2011

Day 81: African Honeybush, Mandarin and Orange

Today's character, the person who came to life in my mind as I sipped my tea, is Mma Ramotswe from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.  If you've read this book, you'll be familiar with this lady, a warm, generous-hearted, confident and humble creature.  It's a fascinating mix, and so is the tea for today.

African honeybush is a lovely phrase. Just makes you imagine you are wandering through the back roads of Africa and there is a flowering bush, sage green in colour to match the rest of the dry landscape, but with light white flowers covering it and being tended to carefully by thoughtful bees.  Somehow the bush gives off a fragrance of honey that wafts to you even from a far distance, and if you are fortunate enough to pass bush after bush, you have to stop with your eyes closed and just breathe it in for a few moments to truly take in the beauty.

This tea is like that, and with some citrus flavour to enhance it all, you can't ask for a much sweeter tea.  It needs to be steeped for quite a while - I'm thinking it would make an absolutely perfect iced tea, because by the time it has steeped to the level that all the flavours are brought out, it's no longer hot.  Maybe that's how Mma Ramotswe likes it, but I prefer my tea to either be hot or cold.

One of my favourite lines from the entire Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith is on the second page of the first book. We are introduced to 'Precious' Ramotswe, and her new business, and to her love of Africa.  "I am not ashamed to be called an African patriot, said Mma Ramotswe.  I love all the people whom God made, but I especially know how to love the people who live in this place."

When I read that line, I associated with it exactly. That's how I feel about Scotland.  I moved here ten years ago from America, and whilst America will always be my 'home country' in terms of where I am from, and where I often return to, and where my family is, I am not ashamed to be called a Scottish patriot.  I love all the people whom God made, but I especially know how to love the people who live in this place.  It's a beautiful thing to love where you are and love who you know there.  Airdrie is a town of 50,000 or so, small compared to Phoenix, where I grew up, which is 1.5 million strong and growing.  It's not the kind of place that people move to on purpose, so I'm constantly asked why in the world I left the glories of America to come and stay in Airdrie, of all places.  We have a few stabbings now and then, and a murder or two, and there are places you just don't go at night (or, sometimes, ever), and some people you pass have a bit of hopelessness in their eyes and in their face.  But when I moved here, it was to help support the little church down on North Bridge street, the block building that doesn't look so impressive from the outside, but inside has the words of life and a people who love God and each other and hope for everyone in this town and beyond.  And after ten years here, I especially love this place, and this country, and am proud to have become a citizen of it.

Took a longer walk this morning - just felt like I needed it.  Went beyond my usual and was plagued a bit by bugs, but overall it was a good walk and a beautiful day and I might just go out for another one later!

Walk length: 50 minutes

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