The Old Woman's Tea

 When the night grows dark and the wind picks up and the cold chill sinks into bones, that is the time when the old woman puts the kettle on and starts her preparations for tea. The water boils and the leaves sink in, their brew beginning to scent the air. Next come the scones that cook in an oven as quickly as the tea steeps. Then the jam, whipped in minutes from a handful of sweet dried berries. Last the cream pours itself from the jug on the table, a thick golden-yellow.

            The time, the nature, the structure of the tea is all magic from this old woman. She knows it, and she smiles as she thinks of the wonders that will befall any who eat the things she has made.

            Then she sends out the call, and all who hear it come running, laughing in anticipation of such splendor.

            All sit down together, sheltering from the night, and take their tea one sip, one bite, at a time until the table is bare once more.

            Then they all slip out, two or three at a time, in good cheer, no matter the cold dark night.

            The next night they do it all again.

            What good does it do? All this repetition? All this feastful eating?

            The old woman knows. It is why she makes the tea. For whoever eats and drinks from her feast feels the goodness of it well within them, and as they sleep it blossoms until the next day when they must give away all that goodness if they want to eat again.

Thus, the goodness multiplies.

All because of tea.

This is what the old woman knows.

And she’ll never stop—for it seems to her the truest magic.

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