Unfolding the Map
We cross state lines again, and now we are traveling in Vermont. The Salada Tea signs that William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) notices helps cover for my lack of knowledge of anything in Vermont, and allows me to wax poetic on my love of tea. Pull up a nice easy chair, pour yourself a cup and don't spill any on the map as you look for Orwell, Sudbury and Goshen!
"...a soft amber light fell over Vermont to give the rise of wet fields deep relief and color. Through the villages of Orwell, Sudbury, and Goshen Corners, past the old groceries with SALADA TEA lettered in gold on front windows, and into the Green Mountains (which, some say, Vermont means in French despite cynical literalists who insist on 'Worm Mountain')."
Blue Highways: Part 8, Chapter 7
Orwell, Sudbury and Goshen (Corners), Vermont
Here's a disclaimer. I've never been to Vermont, or New Hampshire, or Maine. As you've come to expect, for the purposes of these posts that doesn't mean much, as I simply write about what images and feelings the quotes bring to mind, or what caught my eye or imagination and interested me and which I then explored.
So when it comes to Orwell, Sudbury and Goshen (Corners), I can't really tell you much. It would be a disservice to try to force a treatise about George Orwell on you simply because the town's name is Orwell or to stretch something out of Sudbury or Goshen.
I was a little curious about why "Vermont" would translate to "Worm Mountain." After all, I've had enough exposure to Spanish and to Latin that I know that "verde" or "verte" means "green" in those languages. "Mont" clearly means mountain, such as "montaña" in Spanish, "montagne" in French, "montanha" in Portuguese, or even "munte" in Romanian. Well, it turns out that "ver" means "worm" in French (it is "verme" in Portuguese and Italian, "vierme" in Romanian but inexplicably "gusano" in Spanish). Since the Green Mountains are within Vermont, I am pretty sure that Vermont means Green Mountain, but even so, it is pretty interesting to think of a mountain of worms.
But the thing that really catches my eye in this quote is the reference to Salada Tea. For years, my wife has given me a bad time because of my propensity to drink tea. Her need, one might almost say addiction, is to get up and have a cup of coffee. Once, when she and I visited El Paso, we drove around one morning with her getting angrier and angrier because we couldn't find a place where she could get a cup of coffee. If she doesn't have her coffee, then she can't get going and she'll actually get a headache. It's been this way for years.
I never developed a taste for coffee. My mom and dad drank it, my father especially. He drank coffee all day, and Early Times at night. In high school and college, while my friends became increasingly dependent on coffee, I never took it up. It didn't taste good to me, no matter how much you masked it with sugar or milk. When I worked as an overnight security guard at the lumber mill in my home town, I briefly considered it but one pot, brewed badly by me, was enough to convince me that I would never like it. More on this later, because one should never say never.
What has happened is that I've slowly developed a taste for tea, to the point that it is now my main morning drink. Like Captain Picard, I prefer "tea, Earl Gray, hot," though I usually mix it up with Irish Breakfast or English Breakfast. Like most people, I drank tea in the bag. I started with Lipton and sugar, but as my tea palate became more discriminating, I discovered that Lipton wasn't that good. It was a whole new world for me when I realized that there were more kinds of tea than the generic white bag that simply said "tea." "What is orange pekoe?" I wondered, and later began to wonder "just what is Earl Grey and what is the bergamot in it?" And so on.
Then I discovered that tea did not have to black. Another world opened up for me when I discovered green tea. My tea awareness grew by leaps and bounds as first, I began frequenting stores that weren't supermarkets, such as health food stores. A visit to the Whole Foods or my local cooperative would often open up new varieties of tea I hadn't heard of, and suddenly, I became aware of green teas. I also learned that I liked certain types of teas in the mornings (black) and other types in the afternoons (green). I also became aware of white teas as well, and began trying them.
For a while, like most people, I called anything that steeped in water and made a colored, tasteful drink "tea." But as my tea wisdom grew, I learned that tea only comes from tea plants. A lot of the things that are marketed as tea are really not tea, such as the herbal concoctions. There is no such thing as chamomile tea, though that's what I called it when I was trying to get myself around Rome and see the sights with a bad case of bronchitis. I really thought that it was the chamomile "tea" that I would find in the shops that helped break up the phlegm and make it easier to breathe. It was really the hot water, I've learned, but I have a fondness for chamomile to this day. But it is not a tea. It and other herbal teas are called tisanes and have different properties than teas.
Another advance in my tea awareness came a few years ago, when I was introduced to an iced tea called "vanilla rooibos" served in a coffee shop near my house in New Orleans. It was good - I love vanilla too - and I began to read up on rooibos. A South African bush, rooibos is technically not a tea though they call it "red tea" in its own country. However, it has some similar properties. All teas are high in antioxidants, especially green tea, and rooibos also has a number of antioxidants as well. All I know is that I like it.
Finally, lately I have discovered just how good it is to have fresh, loose leaf teas. A tea shop, the New Mexico Tea Company, opened in Albuquerque and it has afforded me the opportunity to learn more about teas, how to properly make them, and to try a myriad of different teas from all over the world. The taste, depending on the type and color of the tea, can be remarkably different. I still tend toward the Earl Grey, but I also try other teas that can range from delicate flavorings to strong ones, fruity flavors to smoky. I occasionally love the smokey flavor of a Lapsang Souchong, or the strong over-the-top flavor of an Irish Breakfast to break up my usual Earl Grey fix at times. I really enjoy the nutty flavor of a good Genmaicha on a rainy afternoon, and I absolutely love jasmine green tea.
It may be that I can't brew a good pot of coffee, but I really think there is more variety and depth in tea. Coffee is in your face, and people use coffee, in my opinion, to rev themselves up or stay awake. But tea, to me, is more subtle. I use tea in the morning to awake, but I also use tea in the afternoon to relax. Tea seems to me to be very associated with the mood that one is trying to cultivate and, in Asia, serving tea properly has been considered a high art form. I'm not trying to say that drinking tea makes me better than those "uncouth" coffee drinkers. It's just that it is different, and I feel good, and a little different from my friends and relatives, in making it my personal drink.
And now my second disclaimer. Remember my never say never? I have developed a taste for Turkish coffee. Now that's some coffee that I can drink!
I'm going to give you a double-dose of tea today. For the first time, I'm going to repost a song I already used in this site, but I think you'll understand why I put Colin Hay's Beautiful World in here when you hear the lyrics. The second song is fun also. It's by a Croatian hip hop band named Elemental, who extol the wonders of tea in A Cup of Brown Joy.
If you want to know more about Orwell, Sudbury and Goshen (Corners)
Next up: Woodstock, Vermont