So here we are at the end of our journey and Jean and I are sitting at
our fireside drinking a cup of tea. One who marries a Scottish lady must
acquire the habit of sitting at the fireside and drinking black tea and
indeed it is a delightful break in the cares and duties of the day. If
the tea is good and the fire burns merrily, one enjoys recreation and
rest. It's a good way to end the day.
The tea cozy at my lady's right hand keeps the tea hot for a long time
and there is nothing my lady enjoys better than filling one's cup. Many
cups of tea has she served to visiting friends from Britain and other
countries and how sociable and friendly a custom it is. The bellows
sends the sparks flying up the chimney when applied by my lady's
vigorous hands and she will tolerate no assistance either in building
her fire or keeping up the music of the snapping embers.
Queen of the fireside and the teatable at "Comely Bank" is my lady Jean
and the thought often comes to me that her steadfast devotion to duty
was not excelled even by grandmother. I am indeed a fortunate man; of
that I am sure and this is the very place and this is the very hour for
reverie even though lady Jean maintains that my reveries far too
frequently are preludes to cat naps and my cat naps preludes to slumber
At our fireside scores of friends from all corners of the globe have
delighted us by their presence. They have come as the result of my
planting a sapling in 1905. The first Rotary Club was that sapling. It
has grown into a mighty tree in whose shade it is delightful to dwell.
Tonight my thoughts most naturally drift back to grandfather,
grandmother, the boy I once knew, and to My Valley. There is sweet music
in the mountains; the rhythmic fall of the woodsman's axe; the mooing of
the cows in the pasture; the cackle of hens in the barnyard advertising
their wares; a rooster's strident proclamation of daybreak; the chorus
of catbirds, orioles, robins, field sparrows and wrens; the mournful
cooing of a dove in the distance telling its sad story of unrequited
love; and far down in the valley, the liquid tones of a meadow lark
calling to its mate, while in the slough alongside the railroad track
ridiculously pompous and lovesick bullfrogs swell themselves into
prodigious proportions and give voice to their springtime roundelays.
In the late Summer, locusts and untold thousands of tiny insects, all
join in a mighty hum to make themselves collectively heard.
In the early autumn, crickets and katydids sit up all night announcing
that the leaves of the maple trees are already beginning to show color;
that the pageant will soon be on and that some night in the not too
distant future, when the eyes of the home folks are closed in sleep,
mystic winter will creep silently into the valley and gently lay upon
all the great outdoors its crystal white blanket of snow to keep things
warm until the spring-time resurrection comes.
No one knows how long such thoughts might have continued had not a voice
broken in, "Why, I declare! I believe you have been asleep, Paul; wake
up and drink another cup of tea; the fire is burning low and we must
soon be in bed." So goeth life at "Comely Bank."
God grant that my vision of the faults of men and of nations be dimmed
and my vision of their virtues be brightened.
-Paul P. Harris.