Tea House – deCordova series

Tea House
Jean Shin and Brian Ripel
plastic stirrers, aluminum tubing, timber, tea

Mad Hatter’s invited us all to tea
March Hare and Alice, the Dormouse and thee.

Please save your tea bag, stirrer too.
Once your drink’s had time to brew.

The silly plan the Hatter’s hatched:
To patch his roof with plastic thatch.

Then hang our rubbish, dangling free
Pithy fruits on a drip-dry tree.

Detail from “Tea House”

* * *

Welcome to my fourth post inspired by artwork at the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA.

Tea House celebrates a tenuous connection between the retreat of Henry David Thoreau at nearby Walden Pond, and that of museum founder and tea merchant Julien deCordova at Flint’s Pond. Museum visitors were encouraged to sip tea on the rooftop terrace and hang their used tea bags inside the canopy woven from red plastic stirrers.  Salada Tea provided in-kind support for the project – their octagonal tagged bags featuring short quotations.

It was a stretch for me to fathom the connections between these cheap, disposable items and the rich celebrations of environment, nature and simple living that I associate with Thoreau.  My mind turned to Alice, the riddle-filled tea party, and a silly poem!

You may have heard of the Boston Tea Party?  Well, the colonists were not tossing tea bags into the harbor, but Salada Tea company built its U.S. headquarters in Boston in 1917. Anchored by two ornately carved, 12 foot tall, two ton bronze doors depicting the cultivation of tea, the Salada building now houses Grill 23 & Bar.  Nothing cheap or disposable about that architecture!


About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at cmealey@post.harvard.edu or Twitter @catballoumealey
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29 Responses to Tea House – deCordova series

  1. Sue Wang says:

    What a view. I love this series from deCordva. You bring poems and beauty to the mass. “Drip-dry tree” -this actually reminds of Colorado. Every tree is drip dry. 🙂 If the colonists didn’t dump tea in the harbor then who did? Just curious.

  2. I love the contemporary artwork at deCordva. Love your poem as it expresses your fun with the sculpture. Like the view.

  3. Pingback: Poetry Friday: A Bowl of Poetry Candy

  4. Tabatha says:

    What a fun connection you made, Cathy! I will have to go back and read your other sculpture-inspired poems.

  5. Another witty tidbit to add to your growing collection…and this really is shaping up to be quite the collection, Cathy! I hope you keep getting inspired by this place!

    Love the drip-dry tree. 🙂

  6. Iza Trapani says:

    Another winner, Cathy! I just love what you’ve been coming up with. So clever and lovely.

  7. Joyce Ray says:

    Welcome, Cathy! I love your pairing of Alice in Wonderland characters with the Tea House sculpture. I read your other sculpture-inspired poems too. The idea is wonderful. It would be great for visitors to read your poems as they viewed the art!

  8. Can you pluck the bags off the ceiling and have a nice cup of orange pekoe?

  9. Cathy, I love your poems! Such imagination and a “take” that’s totally appealing and fresh!

  10. jama says:

    Another really clever poem! Love the whimsical idea of the tea house with all those used tea bags. Something the Mad Hatter would wear :).

  11. This was a delightful poem, Cathy! Thank you!

  12. Another amazing, clever art poem, Cathy! I think you should take the photographs and the poems and make them into a book! 🙂

  13. Laura Shovan says:

    Hi, Cathy. I love any kind of ekphrastic poetry. Throw in some Alice references and I’m sold! I enjoyed learning about this outdoor art.

    • Laura – there’s nothing I love more than learning a new word! Per Merriam-Webster, origin of EKPHRASIS – Greek ekphrasis, literally, description, from ekphrazein to recount, describe, from ex- out + phrazein to point out, explain. Three years of Latin didn’t expose me to this term, so Thank You. I shall endeavor to use it properly and frequently!

  14. Laura Sassi says:

    I LOVE the idea of writing poems inspired by a museum collection. This one’s so clever and fun!

  15. Lovely, Cathy — and any mind that instantly steers toward Alice in Wonderland is right on track, I’d say!

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