Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Moment Among the Elephants

I must have been Edie's age, around 7 years old, the year my Grandma took me to the Circus. I remember two things: eating popcorn and riding an elephant. My Grandma could not believe that her quiet, shy granddaughter was truly determined to sit atop a pachyderm, but there it was. There would be no stopping me. Much to the chagrin of my older brother, an elephant ride for me meant an elephant ride for him. I could hardly contain my excitement as I climbed up into the carrier on top of that amazing creature. I don't know how many children were packed up there, but I made sure I was in front. I imagined I was alone, on an African savanna, just me and my elephant. I remember the deep, grey wrinkles and being surprised by the rough sprouts of hair on its skin. It was thrilling.

Elephants were always interesting to me. One of my favorite chapters in the book, "The Secret Garden," was when Mary discovered the room with the cabinet of carved elephants. I read that chapter again and again.

That's one of the reasons I was so excited to receive a beautiful elephant tea caddy gift set from Williamson Tea, Tea Farmers in Kenya since 1869. And with it, an enamel mug. Visions of sitting outside my safari tent near an open fire, my fingers curled around the mug, the trumpeting of elephants in the distance... it was nearly tangible.

I wasted no time in brewing a cup of Kenyan Earth, their English Breakfast blend, made with Kenyan tea. I'll admit I was hoping beyond hope that it would be good. I've had challenges with Kenyan teas in the past. This one had to be good. It just HAD to be.

And it was! The first sip, the first wonderful sip was everything an English Breakfast blend should be. Bold, malty, and smooth. Absolutely perfect. So perfect, in fact, it has been my morning cup of tea all week long. And the caddy? It sits atop my wall-of-tea that is a work-in-progress. I can look up from my desk and I can happily be aware of the elephant in the room.

These days, we're more aware of the treatment of animals in captivity, and even Ringling Brothers has said they will be retiring their 13 travelling elephants by 2018 in response to the changing attitudes of its customers. The focus has shifted to conservation, and rightly so. The elephant population continues to dwindle due to poachers (100,000 were killed in just 3 years according to one report).  Which is another reason I am quickly becoming an uber-fan of Williamson Tea. They partner with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of pioneering conservation organizations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. For every elephant caddy sold, Williamson Tea donates £1 to the Wildlife Trust. 

Thank you, Williamson Tea. #KeepOnWandering

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