When you write about tea, it seems you see the word everywhere, even when you are not looking for it. Last week, my family and I were in upstate New York, visiting Letchworth State Park with its many trails and spectacular Genesee River gorge and waterfalls, and really not thinking about tea in the least.
But then, while driving through the park, we spotted this sign. Curious, we stopped to find out what the “tea table” was.
Not an actual table, it turns out. Nor was any tea available.
Rather, this region was called Tea Table Rock because flat sandstone once overhung the deep river gorge, providing the perfect “table” on which to sit and take in both the view and some refreshments. As the interpretive sign puts it, this was the place to “picnic or have ‘a spot of tea.'”
Now a “spot of tea” could mean an actual cup of tea, or tea along with sandwiches, or simply the sandwiches—but any excuse to sit and linger in a pretty place works for me!
However, that jutting sandstone slab no longer exists. Today’s visitors stand on more solid ground, delineated by utilitarian fences and by picturesque stone walls built long ago by the CCC.
But picnickers are faced with a dizzying choice of amazing stone picnic (or tea!) tables!
Some, like this table nestled in a stand of mature trees, captivate—inviting a cozy tea break.
So although we were nearly 400 miles from home, we felt welcomed. Yes, parks belong to everyone and, yes, picnic tables everywhere invite us to sit awhile and enjoy a meal. But there is something about “tea table” that feels particularly special—that draws us in, that encourages us to converse and enjoy each other’s company, that begs us to appreciate anew the surrounding loveliness.
We had our spot of tea sans actual tea. But there was lots of conversation and plenty of terrific scenery and an incredible table! Everything that the “Tea Table Area” promises.