It was back in the late 1970’s when a group of young women were meeting for a weekly Bible study/support group that I first got the inkling that there was a whole lot more to tea than meets the tongue. Marilyn Showalter put a battered old teapot in the middle of the kitchen table and slapped a yellow, strange, sleeve-looking thing down over it. At my questioning look she said, “That’s a tea ‘cozy.’ It helps to keep the tea warm. Everybody in Red Lake uses them.” That teapot with its cozy became very familiar to the little group as we slugged through the challenges of marriage, motherhood, and life as it was for young Mennonite women in Central Ohio in those days.
Dorcas Smucker had her own education about cozies and teapots and methods while living as a young married woman among the Native Americans in Canada. She traces the history of her love affair with the “perfect” cup of tea in the pages of her latest book, Tea and Trouble Brewing.
Dorcas Smucker. This is the fourth book that she has written, and it is another well written, delightfully honest, and captivating collection of stories from the farmhouse in Rural Oregon where a Mennonite Mama seeks to maintain her sanity while she raises six intelligent, energetic, diverse and impulsively creative offspring. She is never silent about the steadying role that her husband plays in this ongoing drama of life’s commonality — love, work, education, humor (and trouble — let’s not forget Trouble!) and the team that is “Paul and Dorcas” gives me hope and courage because of how candidly Dorcas relates the tales of family living.
When I was telling a friend that I was going to review this book as part of a “Blog Tour” she encouraged me to not read any of the other entries before writing my own. “That way,” she said wisely, “you won’t be influenced by what other people say!” That sounded like solid advice, and I would have followed it — if I could have. And I did hold out until last night, then I frantically went to every site to see what other people had written. It helped me so much from a number of stand points.
For one thing, it showed the diversity of appeal that Dorcas has. I’m a Mennonite Mama — I’ve LIVED these stories in many forms over almost four decades of marriage. I laughed and cried and sat quiet in my chair with memories falling all around my heart in both shining and broken pieces while I read Dorcas’ stories. But reading the reviews reminded me that it isn’t the “Mennonite” or the “Mama” that makes this book so interesting to me. It’s the transparency that Dorcas offers us, inviting us to walk with her through the everyday unexpected and the unwanted bumps in the road; the less than perfect responses and the relentless call to something better; the exquisite joys and equally cutting disappointments of relationships and family living and pets and finances.
I also realized that there is only so many ways on a blog to do a giveaway. So we will make this simple. If you want to win a copy of Dorcas’ book, Tea and Trouble Brewing, leave me a comment, and on Monday, I will pick someone (probably by a totally unbiased method) and send that particular person a SIGNED copy of the same.
(I also found out something else: SUE BEACHY KAUFFMAN, www.xanga.com/suzyquekau don’t even THINK I’m going to give you a book if you win. You already won one. So there!)
Of course, if you are like me, and almost never win anything in giveaways such as this and you want to circumvent chance, you can purchase the book directly from Dorcas by mailing her a check for $15 per book, which includes postage. The address is:
31148 Substation Drive
Harrisburg, OR 97446
Or, if you prefer, on Amazon by credit card on the following link:
Dorcas’ other three books; Ordinary Days, Upstairs the Peasants are Revolting; and Downstairs the Queen is Knitting, are also available for some great entertainment with your perfect cup of tea. Read all about it in this particular blog of Dorcas’.