Welcome to ‘The Willowbrook Word’ ~
For those of you who are new readers, I’m Terry, owner and caretaker of Willowbrook Manor English Teahouse and Farm Stay. I’ve got a fun newsletter for you today!
You are getting this email because you either signed up for this newsletter, made a reservation at Willowbrook Manor, are a friend of mine, or are a follower of my mother, author Liz Adair, who has her own corner here in The Willowbrook Word. There is a giveaway at the end of each newsletter so make sure to read to the end.
This Farm-girl Goes to the Big City ~
The International Inbound Tourism Associations (IITA) invited me to participate in a panel discussion on sustainable and meaningful travel at their 2023 Summit in San Diego!
It was an honor to present alongside Stacia Morfin from Nez Perce Tourism. A car crash on her way to the airport almost kept her from coming! I am so glad her tenacity found a way to get to the conference in time to participate because her passion is palpable. She spoke in her native tongue and connected everyone in the room to earth, to sky, and to her heritage. She shared how she discovered her personal mission to tell her people’s story in their own voice. So inspiring!
My turn was next. I expressed my belief that tea is both a universal and gentle form of connection, spanning generations and cultures. Tea is a part of everything we offer at Willowbrook. I so enjoy nurturing guests who come to my farm for tea, for bike tours, or for overnight stays.
In my presentation, I also explained Serving Women Across Nations (SWAN Foundation) and how people come together for tea and work parties in the chamomile field. This raises both awareness of and funds for homeless women and children in our community. (Imagine – people actually pay to come and weed my chamomile field.)
During the Q&A I was asked why I do all this work?
What else would I be doing?
Tourism Cares ~
Meaningful travel is about having experiences that make lasting impressions. John Sutherland guided us through the Tourism Cares website and showed how to find places that offer meaningful travel experiences all around the globe. Click HERE to see Willowbrook Manor’s page on Tourism Care’s website, then click around to see where else in the world you might want to go!
Meaningful Tea ~
March 11th is our annual Seeding and Tea event to benefit the Skagit Friendship House. One hundred percent of your $30 reservation fee provides shelter for homeless women and children. Tea and scones are followed by placing chamomile seeds into propagating trays. It is all indoors, cozy and warm. Click HERE to book your table.
The Tulip Festival Gala ~
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival begins in April, and we will kick off the celebration with a Swing into Spring Gala at the Swinomish Casino March 25th. As this year’s board president I invite you to attend!
If you live close to Skagit Valley, dress up and come for our ‘Red Carpet’ treatment, sumptuous dinner, dessert auction and swing dancing to a live band. Tickets are on sale now with an early bird special of $85. Get your tickets HERE and let me know if you are coming so I can look for you!
Tea and Tulips ~
Speaking of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, did you know that Tea and Tulips at Willowbrook Manor is one of the featured events of the Tulip Festival? It is a wonderful way to celebrate the coming of Spring! Click HERE to make a reservation. Seating is indoors and is limited so make your reservation early.
Mothers Tea ~
Mothers Tea is a tender thing for me. As I look through the pictures of the many mothers who have come to Willowbrook with loved ones, I realize how time passes. Many of the mothers who have come to tea have since gone ‘home’. I teared up when I found this picture of my dear friend Pola Kelly, who passed away recently. Pola attended my very first ‘practice’ tea. She was an icon in our small town. As the director of our chamber of commerce, she brought the community together leading events large and small. I miss her hugs. You can feel the love radiating from her in this picture from Mothers Tea 2021 (she is lovely silver-haired woman standing). If you knew Pola and would like to send a message to her family click HERE and I will forward to them.
To make your own special Mother’s Tea memory click HERE.
Speaking of making special memories, I really enjoy working on this newsletter with my mom. For this edition, I asked her to include an excerpt from her memoir entitled No-Town Girl that will be published later this year.
So here is Liz:
Liz Sez ~
Mother told me of a time when her family was living on a starve-out homestead in Cutter, New Mexico. Grandpa had found a mare, and he brought it home and put it in the corral. He intended to try to find the owner at some future time, after he had a foal out of it. In the meantime, he began to train the mare to harness.
He paired the visiting horse with a placid, well-trained gelding of his own and hitched them to a buckboard. The session started all right, but somewhere in the middle, the new horse spooked and took off. The gelding, instead of being a steadying influence, abandoned all its principles and bolted as well.
Mother, about four years old, was in the yard, and her brother Clay, age ten, scooped her up and carried her to the protection of the front door of the house. From there the family watched the harness lesson play out.
A windmill fan lay in the dooryard, tilted up on its hub with some blades in the air and the opposite ones in the dirt. It had been there long enough that Grandma had stored her empty fruit jars underneath.
Grandpa, standing in the wagon, reins in one hand and a whip in the other, hadn’t yet gained control of the team. When they headed for the windmill fan, there was nothing he could do but ride it out. He stayed upright, cussing and flailing with the whip, as the wagon flew in the air. When he finally gained control, Grandma went over to check her fruit jars. Nearly every one of them had been broken.
That incident happened about 1920. Fifty years later, my family went on a trek to the old homestead. There was little to distinguish the homesite from surrounding rangeland except for a rusted windmill fan lying on its side with greasewood growing up through the fan blades. Underneath lay scattered shards of broken fruit jars.
My throat grew tight as I saw the spiky glass fragments, dyed blue by half a century of sunlight. A young homemaker, I had begun turning my hand at food preservation. I knew what a precious—and expensive—resource canning jars were. I knew why my grandmother Della, living in a rudimentary house with little storage space, would put her hoard of empty jars in what she thought was a safe space, protected under the steel windmill fan.
That was the moment I began to understand the cycle of disappointments Della Smith had endured during the sixty-odd years she was married to my grandfather Nathan. The loss of her canning jars would have been a terrible blow, but in the broader scheme of her life, it was one of the minor things she had had to deal with.
Toward the end of their lives, Grandma and Grandpa had occupied adjoining beds in the long-term-care wing of the local hospital. He died, and when the soft-footed mortuary people had removed my grandfather’s body, I sat on his bed, hoping to console her. She perched on the other bed, short legs dangling, her diminutive four-foot-something frame hardly making a dent in the mattress.
“I was married twice,” she told me before I could dredge up any comforting words, “and I got a lemon both times.”
She was small, poor, uneducated, and overlooked, but even shackled to a lemon, Grandma managed to raise nine honorable, productive children who adored her.
This picture is from the 1950’s with my grandmother and three of her nine children. From left to right, my mother Lucy, Emory, Elizabeth, Grandma Della, and Emory’s wife Esther.
Back to Terry…
From a young age I was told the story of how my great grandmother Della, though deaf, could hear me coo, the frequency of my infant-voice being one of the few sounds that she could hear. I was told how she would smile and visit with me. I’m grateful for the story of that sweet connection. Sometimes I think of my hard-working great grandma, and how she made lemonade out of lemons.
Speaking of Lemonade ~
Last month’s giveaway included six of these super groovy screw on lids that convert a wide-mouth mason jar into a pitcher. The six winners are: Jamie W from Peoria AZ, Judy H from Kanab, UT, Robin M, Kidron OH, Carol D from Bellingham, WA, Mary W from Montrose, CO, and Nancy G from Lamont, IL who included this clever limerick:
That little green lid is fine to see.
I would use it for my tea.
It’s great to pour,
and so much more
I hope that one will come to me!
A Puzzle Giveaway ~
I went to the Tulip Festival office and picked up two of this year’s tulip poster in puzzle form! Click HERE to enter to win. Make sure to include a little note to let me know how you are doing. I love hearing from you.
Wrapping Up ~
That is it for this edition of The Willowbrook Work. Thanks for reading all the way to the end. My ‘ask’ is that you forward this to a friend and help grow this newsletter family. Thank you again for your support!
Sending lots of love from Willowbrook Manor.
This past Sunday we had a family dinner and it made my mama-heart grateful to have these wonderful people (four of my six kids and their loved-ones) under my roof again.