THIS OLD CAMPHOR TREE, planted during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), dominates the yard at the Irwin Street Inn, an historic landmark in downtown Hanford, California. Photo copyright 2004 Pat Browning.
By Pat Browning
Another holiday season is upon us and another year rushes to a close. My personal blog from Dec. 24, 2004, my last Christmas in California, seems as timely as ever. Here it is.
I keep looking at my watch.
I'm sipping Prince of Wales tea from a real china cup, poured scalding hot from a real china teapot. Prince of Wales is my favorite tea, a "full-bodied blend with a hint of black currant," but I keep looking at my watch.
The Sweet Tea at the Irwin Street Inn, a landmark in downtown Hanford, California, comes with little sandwiches, scones, thick cream, lemon curd, strawberry jam. It's cold outside, even with sunshine breaking up the fog. Inside, there's a fire in the fireplace, and through the bayed window I can see the wandering limbs of a century-old camphor tree.
I look at my watch. It's 11:45. I have to mail a letter, pick up a prescription, be at the beauty parlor by 12:30. I ask the old Zen question: Where am I?
Where am I? Sitting on a ladder-back chair, in the quiet elegance of a Victorian parlor, sipping Prince of Wales tea, admiring a camphor tree planted sometime between 1901 and 1909. In summer, shade from the old tree makes the yard a popular place for wedding receptions. On this winter day, leaves on the top branches are still green, and the lower limbs are wrapped with strings of tiny lights. I break open a cranberry scone and spoon cream over it.
It's Christmas Eve. What's my hurry?
Tomorrow: Christmas Truce, more from Christmases past.