Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Final Leaf

Way back, well over a couple of decades ago, I sketched on a paper napkin a dream I had for a tea house. I was with my brother. He kept the napkin.

On Thanksgiving weekend of 2002 my brother and his crew broke ground for the tea house.

We opened the doors of Nilgiris Tea House at 7:00 a.m. on April 13, 2003.


On April 19, 2017, I watched as my dream was compressed into 53 feet of storage space and was driven carefully away by the best Class 1 licence holder I know.


How I loved the Tea House! I think back to the beginning - Brenda and Andy and Mum and Dad and BethAnne and Bonnie C and Allan and Angie and Don and Norma, all pitching in to get the thing off the ground.

And my Girls - and Guys - who worked hard and cheerfully, doing whatever was asked of them, charming the guests, displaying unswerving loyalty and dedication. I am so proud of you, "my" kids, proud of what you have all gone on to accomplish with your lives. Truly, of all employers, I am so blessed.

The crowning glory of the TH was you, my guests. I  LOVED my Oldies and their birthday party breakfasts ... the tiniest ladies and gentlemen who toddled through the door and would hug Baby Elephant and sit and have tea parties with miniature cups and plates ... the crew who wanted cinnamon rolls and strawberry cheesecake ... the private functions for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Christmas parties, Valentine soirees ... Easter and Thanksgiving dinners, where the staff knew that the portion size needed to be "enough so everyone could take food home."




I made many wonderful friends at Nilgiris. Thank you for sharing your china cups and your lives with me. Thank you for Reading the Leaves and encouraging me to write. You all made my life richer and fuller, far, far beyond my biggest dreams.


And now this beautiful space is about to embrace someone else's dream. I am excited to see it unfold.




But still ... as I looked one last time around the place that held my heart for so many years, memories and emotions I had thought were firmly in check welled up unbidden.

One of my wise sisters says, "You have to say hello before you can say goodbye." Nilgiris and I have been saying hello to each other for 14 years. Now it's time to say adieu. Go with God.


Oh, my little Tea House! How I loved you!


45 comments:

  1. It was a most pleasant surprise to have such a place as the Tea House - it was like stepping through a portal into another world with decadent smells, gracious manners & the company of a wonderful host with her crew. Thank you so very much for creating such a place for my family to enjoy. It will always be remembered fondly. Much love from Scott, Kiko, Maya, Mona, & Tori.

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  2. Thank you, Scott and Kiko, for bringing my little Maya each Saturday morning for her job of filling sugar bowls and the candy dish, etc! I am so in awe of the young woman she is becoming. Truly one of my beloved kids ... xoxo

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  3. Even though its been closed for a while this post made me cry. This little corner holds many precious memories of time spent with my precious people...my dorm girls, my friends, my family, and especially my dear Dad. I wish for just one more wonderful cup of chai or just one more piece of Banana creme pie. You created a beautiful space Karen. Thank you for the part you played in this community. If I could have, I would have bought it from you and tried to carry on the love that you started. Lord knows I've walked past it often enough the past year. But it wasn't meant to be. God bless you for your love that you put into serving us all. Love you!
    Sheila

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  4. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to visit but from reading your blogs and the comments of your many friends and customers I'm sure I am correct in saying that in the beginning 'The Tea House' was merely a building...designed with hope and love but I know without a doubt that it was you dear friend Karyn and your wonderful family that added the essence and soul to the place. I wish you well in the new chapters that lie ahead for you

    Mim Dartnall Smith xx

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  5. Joanne Dau DuncanApril 20, 2017 at 8:31 AM

    Remembering many wonderful times spent here with family and friends...the absolute best Curry Chicken and Peanut Butter Pie...what a blessing you were to us and we miss your friendship and your hugs ��

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  6. You must have so many mixed emotions. ❤

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  7. I always loved coming back to the Tea House whenever I was in Three Hills! It had delightful decor, delicious food and welcoming staff. I especially loved the pies! I have great memories of enjoying the Tea House with my mum and dad and family. I'm like Sheila, I would have loved to carry on your legacy.
    Best wishes and God's blessing on your next adventure.
    Betty (Davidson) Scott

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  8. Tears here, Karyn... and, no doubt, all over the globe. Know that you are loved dearly. The grace and delight you extended to many will not be forgotten.

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  9. Karyn: I have such happy memories from the teahouse. I hope God richly blesses you wherever your path goes from here.

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  10. I have so many great memories at the tea house that will always be in my heart!! ❤️

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  11. Hello Karyn, Oh the memories! The highlight was Mom, Bruce, and I doing the lunch and dinner German style. Mom was in her glory, cooking, baking, visiting with your mom, and getting a standing ovation. To quote her "This is a chef's dream, and if only in my dreams." Great fun, and lots of love. Miss you, and your family.

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  12. Thank you Karen for the delicious dinner you cooked for us when we came to see you all at Three Rivers and Nilgiri Tea House. We will never forget the beautiful and homely atmosphere and the adorable decorations.
    Time has to go on and we cherish the memories . KLove you all .
    Jess and Grace Enochs, Knoxville, TN

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  13. So many great memories there with my hubby and kids. They're not kids anymore so a few years must have passed. I saw the truck there yesterday and it made me sad. It was such a great place to go. Thanks for always being so kind to us and giving Jana her first job!

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  14. Awww Karyn... �� much love!! ❤Yesterday must have been so hard!!

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  15. Heather GawronskiApril 20, 2017 at 2:18 PM

    Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to experience the Nilgiris Tea House .... but wish i had! It sounds like a wonderful place. Best wishes to you Karen.

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  16. Oh Karyn... what a special place it was!!! It'll always remain very close to our hearts! It was there that our family met you for the first time.. and I knew that we have become friends for life! Along with pouring aromatic teas you poured love for each one of us who visited this tea house! You forgot to mention my favourite dessert.. STP ( Sticky Toffee Pudding) that I still dream about and something that no one makes better than you!!!! My New Year's Day breakfasts in the company of Uncle Allan and the whole Ironside family, playing carrom and cooking Indian meals together!!! Going on a date with my dear hubby whenever I got a chance!! Sitting near the fireplace on those special purple chairs!! Taking all my family and friends there whenever they planned to visit Three Hills!! And last but not the least what a memorable experience for my son Asad who was honoured to work there and learned so much from you my dear dear friend!!

    This place will always live in our hearts... It never fails to bring a smile on my face!!! Lots of love n hugs to you!! I am sure you'll create magic wherever you'll go... All the very best!!!!

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  17. It truly was the coziest place - our family loved our special dates there ❤️

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  18. Bronwyn SpilsburyApril 20, 2017 at 2:24 PM

    My beautiful Karyn. I remember the open house opening of Nilgiris Tea House, full of people, love, hope and food! It was always like that! Your tea house expressed your soul, a cup that runs over with goodness and mercy - that will follow you all the days of your life. You dwell in the house of the Lord forever, and Nilgiris was a wonderful expression of that house, my darling sister. I will so miss seeing you there. Thank you for the work, endless hours, endless love, endless generosity, hope and help you poured out of every teapot, every moment, every word. We love you and we love who we became because of you. I remember the entryway picture of Dad and Mum in the Nilgiris... <3

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  19. JE Erickson DaviesApril 20, 2017 at 2:26 PM

    Karyn thank you for the beautiful tea house. How I loved it there!! It will always be in my mind as a restful place filled with Hope and beauty and memories of India. How Dad loved going there. He bought us the Blue Poppy water color picture and it has a special place in our home. I will never forget that little piece of Heaven on earth. Much love to you!!

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  20. Fond memories. Thank you for introducing me to winter palace marzipan tea--the best! Peace and grace to you in the coming steps of your journey!

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  21. Awwe.. so sad to see it go.. we so enjoyed our our brief, yet so memorable time there. Karyn, your hands worked wonders and your words spoke volumes.. you were and are truly a blessing to us all.. lots of love ❤️ coming your way dear sister!

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  22. Go with God to Karyn Ironside. We are so thankful for the wonderful memories we have of you, your wonderful staff and the graciously inviting space you created and kept going. Thanks for the lovely Valentine's evenings especially. Mike always wants to do something special for me but it was hard to know what. Those blessed evenings were the perfect answer for him to bless me. Hugs my friend.

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  23. We saw the truck backed in there yesterday, Ruth-Anne came home and said with sadness in her voice, they are loading up everything out of the Tea House. I drove by and saw you all there but then decided not to stop and chat as I did not want to interrupt this moment for you. I sure have missed my dates with my Dearsome Twosome in that place since in closed. Anna always got special attention with an After Eight Chocolate stick. I also experienced many nights of gleaning wisdom from your dad in that place. A place of "New Beginnings" for me is now gone into the past.

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  24. Margaret Cardiff MartinApril 20, 2017 at 2:50 PM

    God Bless you Karyn Ironside it's always hard but we open that new page to make new memories

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  25. <3 Oh, My dear friend. My heart aches with yours. Your beautiful tea house holds so many memories for me both as a patron & as a friend, sharing a cup with you in front of the fireplace. Sean & I ate our first breakfast as husband and wife at one of your tables, 13 years ago this July and when Milo arrived 4 years later, the first bite of food I had in the hospital was one of your cinnamon buns brought to me by my mama after she had stopped by the tea house on her way out of town. Thank you for sharing your beautiful dream with so many. It will never be forgotten. I am so very thankful for the YOU in my life. For a friendship that began within those walls and now exists outside of them. Love you!

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  26. Ranae Janelle DalgettyApril 20, 2017 at 3:59 PM

    <3 Oh, My dear friend. My heart aches with yours. Your beautiful tea house holds so many memories for me both as a patron & as a friend, sharing a cup with you in front of the fireplace. Sean & I ate our first breakfast as husband and wife at one of your tables, 13 years ago this July and when Milo arrived 4 years later, the first bite of food I had in the hospital was one of your cinnamon buns brought to me by my mama after she had stopped by the tea house on her way out of town. Thank you for sharing your beautiful dream with so many. It will never be forgotten. I am so very thankful for the YOU in my life. For a friendship that began within those walls and now exists outside of them. Love you!

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  27. I've had the pleasure of tea at Nilgiris Tea House with friends. Can anyone tell me the meaning of "Nilgiris"?

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  28. What??? That's really sad. I have a lot of good memories there. This was the last place I used to go with my grandmother Onita Kinsey, before Alzheimer's really debilitated her. Sad to see it go, but good luck to whoever comes next.

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  29. So many wonderful times with great tea and beautiful food and wonderful friends. I miss this place!��

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  30. Dearest Karyn, I can't go by the Nilgris without a little ache in my heart, wishing for one more splendid evening sitting by the fireplace enjoying tea and treats with someone I love. It got me through my ten years of widowhood with many happy occasions to attend, one of which was my surprise 60th birthday party. What a splendid time that was and you did a super job!! I always felt like we had come to visit you in your home and you poured out your warm hospitality so well. Thank you for all you did to give us those lovely and special occasions!! God bless you in all your new endeavors. You were such a blessing to us! Gratefully, Joanne (Darling) McMurray

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  31. He had quiche, cause he's a real guy. I had butter chicken, of course. Then, a slice of heaven.

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  32. What wonderful memories were created at Nilgiris Tea House.

    The first for us was the invite to the open house and seeing all those gorgeous pictures of the Nilgiris, tea pickers and more that graced the first menus. So many special events took place there--the Valentines specials, Christmas, Remembrance Day meals for veterans. You always made people feel welcome. Then there was Lois working there and our grand-daughter going for Daddy dates and enjoying special treatment. Thank you for all the love and kindness you poured out through your ministry at the TH. The funniest visit for us was the night one year old Caleb couldn't quit eating the cranberries in the water glasses but made faces the whole time. I am sure the packing process was emotionally draining for you. God bless you as you move forward to what God has for this season of your life.

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  33. Karyn, you and your beautiful tea house both pop up in regular conversation in our home. Whenever I pull out the kids' special tea cups and pot, they reminisce about Miss Karyn and the berries and cream she would treat them with.....the chocolate sticks you would invite them to come fetch at the end of our times. You made such lasting impressions on so many people with your love and the many outpourings of it. I'm so thankful for all the many memories both Peter, myself and our kids have because of you and "the tea house". ��

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  34. Mary Butler GrettonApril 21, 2017 at 12:00 AM

    Oh Karyn, you loved the TH with all your heart.

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  35. All the best Karyn. Cliche l know but got to let go to make space for new dreams. Take care.

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  36. Angela Joy MorrisonApril 21, 2017 at 7:59 AM

    I'm so very grateful for you and Nilgris, Karyn. Together you provided a warm and welcoming sanctuary in a strange new world. I have good memories of bringing and meeting friends over copious cups of tea and dessert, as well as times spent alone with my journal at the corner window beside the piano. Thank you, and may you know God's companionship into your future endeavours.

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  37. We LOVED the tea house! You carried me through a very dark time with your warmth and hospitality! I'll always be grateful....

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  38. Oh Karyn, this message has me in tears. The Tea House. The years I spent working alongside you and Brenda, Beth-Ann and Matthew, Terri-lyn and Dawn, the VanVliet gals, Lois and Maria, Emily and Tannis, and all the rest were some of the best experiences of my life. I became a woman at the Tea House. I will always cherish those times and the relationships they fostered. You especially nurtured, encouraged, listened and admonished the person I was, and was becoming, and am still. You gave me good and meaningful work to do serving and caring for others. You were and continue to be a role model. I will miss this place immensely. I have missed it immensely for years. My dear friend, what a good good thing you did following this dream. It lived in our lives spreading kindness, love, joy and hope. Thank you for this labour of love. Thank you for welcoming us all in to to sit by the fire and to enjoy the warmth and rest of friendship and family that was the heart of the Tea House. Much love, Hez.

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  39. Karyn - The Tea House was Murrays and mine all time favorite place to go for Valentines Day. Thank you so much for sharing your special place.

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  40. I still occasionally yearn for a piece of French Lemon Pie! Lots of love and blessings.

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  41. Dawn and I treasure our times with you as you welcomed us into your "home" many times. Thank you for loving us like no one else could. God bless you!

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  42. I know this was a special place in your heart. It was much more than a tea house. Can't wait to see what ministry opportunity the Lord will lead you to next. Praying for you dear friend.

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  43. Pat Kilgour AndersonApril 22, 2017 at 11:44 PM

    I just read your post about the tea house and I need to thank you for your kindness to my parents, Bill and Betty Kilgour. They both loved you and the teahouse. I remember that you even delivered pumpkin soup to Dad one evening after you closed. Thank you for your kindness. May your next steps on the path be filled with God's blessings.

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  44. Thank you Karen for being so warm and welcoming to all you guests. You made every one feel so special and always found a way to accomidate special requests, like Vietnamese coffee. I can see a can of Eagle Brand without thinking of you. The tea house has been missed greatly, but the memories you helped create will live on. Thank you.

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