Oh what a beautiful *checks American calendar to make sure he gets the correct name for this May holiday* Memorial Day! As far as I can tell, it’s exactly the same as the UK’s late-May bank holiday, only with better branding.
Not a whole lot going on for us this Memorial Day, but yesterday we visited Boulder for the first time since I arrived in Colorado. Oddly enough, it’s a Colorado city that I’ve been aware of for longer than Denver or Colorado Springs. Due, in part, to Boulder being a primary setting in The Stand, the novel that captured my teenage imagination more than any other.
We were meeting up with some friends in the afternoon, to enjoy the local, annual festival that kick-starts the summer. So, on the drive up from the Springs, I looked for places that we could grab some lunch.
Audra (individual by birth, wife by choice) is a tea lover. So immediately the Boulder Dunshanbe Teahouse stood out from the multitude of “10 Best Places to Consume Calories in Order to Convert Them Into Energy So You Don’t Starve To Death…in Boulder” lists.
Seriously, you won’t believe how many of them are titled like that.
You won’t believe it because it’s not true.
The teahouse was constructed in Dunshanbe, Tajikistan; The sister city of Boulder. It was given as a gift to Boulder and you can read more about its history… right here.
To our fortune, we discovered that the teahouse is located on the edge of Boulder Central Park, the location of the weekend-long festival. I worried this meant it would be their busiest weekend of the summer, and that finding a table would be near-impossible. They were extremely busy, and the heat was a lot for this pasty Englishman, but the staff were incredibly polite. They were true warriors, who battled through crowds of tea-thirsty festival-goers. Fifteen minutes after we arrived, we were seated.
I decided it was too hot for tea, so I had a matcha lemonade, and now I never want regular lemonade again. I’m worried that because of that prior sentence, I’ve officially become middle-class. So please excuse me while I go sweep a chimney.
Audra had the house chai, due to the Dunshanbe region being famous for its chai spices. Also, I think, due to it being a drink that had free refills.
I’m learning that I could never be a foodie or travel writer, because we failed in taking photos of our meal. I had the Lapsang Souchong Benedict, a delicious (terrible adjective, again, not a foodie) brunch served with smokey, tea-infused sausage. I’m a big fan of breakfast food, and this certainly cracks my personal top five of “5 Best Breakfasts I’ve Had That Aren’t Actually At Breakfast Time, But That’s Better Because Then You Get Bigger Portions” list.
Audra’s chargrilled chicken, deconstructed sandwich looked amazing, and I’ve just been told that’s exactly how it tasted.
As an added bonus, we were seated right beside the ‘Fountain of the Seven Beauties’ in the centre of the teahouse. For a brief moment I thought that adding some fish to the pond below the fountain would be a good idea. Right up until a child ran by me and plunged his greasy fists into the water. Both fish and children should probably be considered health-code violations.
I couldn’t recommend this teahouse more. My word means absolutely nothing, but if you’re ever in Boulder you should really check it out. Even if it’s just to get a tea, or libation, at the bar as you enjoy the artisanal building. It’s very reasonably priced for the quality of the food and drink, and that’s before you put a value on the experience of being in such a unique place.
We walked our food off by wandering the stalls and vendors of the festival. Some of the booths were typical tourist-y garb and fast-food stalls, but a couple of the larger tents were dedicated to championing local artists. We bought a mostly-psychedelic, partly-geometric landscape print (by Boulder artist Phil Lewis) that caught our eye. His work is incredible, and I like the clear logic of shape and pattern that goes into his otherwise vibrant and expressive work.
As we were sat in the sun, I got an email from my Dad with some more information on our family history. I hadn’t told him that we were spending the day up in Boulder, so receiving restored photos of my great-grand-mother’s, great-grand-parents, sat outside their homestead in Boulder, CO was spookily coincidental.
It turns out that I’ve got much more of a connection to this state than finding my soulmate here in the last few years. Way back, my family moved out to Colorado from The Netherlands. Then, one of the daughters of this couple moved to the UK with her own daughter; Who then had a daughter of her own, who in turn had a son. That son had another son and then, in 1993, I happened.
My Dad’s best guess is that these photos were taken in the 1890s/1900s. So, of course, I’ve been touting to Audra that I’m much more of a Colorado native that she is. I think I’ve told her to get out of my country at least six times this morning, so I feel like a true American now.
It’s mind-blowing to me that over a hundred years later, I strolled arm in arm with my wife on the same land that my ancestors walked; All on the other side of the world from where I was born. I find myself thinking about the memory of another person, how it’s commonly preserved in a photograph. I think that a location can also preserve memory. Just being in a certain environment can make you feel connected to someone you knew, or someone you never even met.
It’s a strange feeling, one that I wasn’t expecting to experience yesterday, but I’m very glad that I did.
It’s a shame the teahouse has only been around since the 1990s, the old chap with the dog on his shoulder looks as though he would’ve enjoyed a good brew.
Today is Monday, May 28th and Audra just brought me some homemade matcha lemonade and now I never need to leave the apartment again.