In these strange times that we live in, with concerns about social distancing and staying healthy influencing everything that I do, I assumed that my birthday would just fall by the wayside. I’ve always considered my birthday to be rather unlucky, as unfortunate things often seem to happen upon it: Everything from all of my luggage being stolen while I was on vacation to someone slipping me a sedative. However, one of my housemate/friends decided that she would go all-out to make my birthday special and yet still safely socially distanced.

On my birthday, I was asked to drive myself and three of my housemates to a park for which I was given the address. When we arrived, I could just hear light jazz music coming from the other side of some shrubs down a short hill. As I carefully picked my way through the grass the light chatter of voices became audible as well. When I rounded the bushes, I was greeted with the most magical of sights! There were two picnic tables in a little clearing, with a perfect view of a bay. Both tablecloths were decorated to within an inch of their lives, as well as covered in goodies and treasures.

A photo of a clearing surrounded by trees, with a bay in the background. There is a decorated table with tea and goodies, and the author's back is to the camera as she walks up to the table.

Me in the middle, walking up to the second table when I first arrived

A picture of a table decorated and covered in goodies and flowers.

In attendance were all of my housemates — including the ones that only live here part-time — so there weren’t even any concerns about social distancing beyond those that I live with as part of my daily life.

A photo of a table decorated with different fabrics, with teapots and a tiered tray of cookies.

My housemate had apparently been going through numerous online freecycling posts to find all kinds of various things which she combined into a most beautiful cohesive whole. She’d also been up half the night baking goodies and assembling treats. Various other of my housemates chipped in here and there as they were able.

A photo of a tiered treat stand holding cookies shaped like teabags next to a frame with a cutout of a teapot and the words "Happy Birthday Jae!"

There were shortbread cookies — some dipped in chocolate — cut into the shape of teabags. Tiny, perfect sandwiches. Homemade scones with clotted cream and some jam (including the peach cinnamon jam that I made last month). Chocolate cupcakes with frosting and topped with blackberries from the bushes in our backyard.

A photo of the author, sitting primly in her party dress with a forefinger contemplatively on her chin.

Me, being me, in my strawberry party dress

There were three different teas – jasmine green pearls, a black tea with orange and cranberry, and a Darjeeling.

A photo of a small group of people sitting around a picnic table sipping tea.

She’d glued plates and candleholders together to make a three-tier treat stand. A new teapot, creamer, and tea cups. A set of espresso cups with saucers. A truly beautiful hand-painted Spanish coffee pot with four matching cups – which included a note from the original owner with the touching story behind it.

A photo of the author's housemate who organized the party looking over the rim of a teacup as she sips.

The talented individual who made it all possible

I received a beautiful vintage jewelry/music box as a gift. (And it doesn’t presently work, so I get the additional entertainment of getting to take it apart and tinker with it in order to repair it!) I also was told that all of the tea and coffee service pieces as well as the serving pieces were mine if I wish. It made my inner magpie very happy.

A photo of the author inspecting her new jewelry box while her housemate watches.

Me, looking at my new jewelry box, while my housemate who organized the party watches

My talented housemate had covered every detail, including bringing a camp stove in order to heat the water for the teas. So we snacked and sipped and chatted and joked, while the breeze off the water kept it from being overwhelmingly hot and the shade from the trees surrounding us kept it from being blindingly bright. It made for an absolutely perfect and magical birthday!

A photo of the author smiling with another of her talented housemates, this one took all of the photos used in this post.

Selfie with my housemate who happens to be the talented photographer who took nearly all the photos for this post!

Images provided by the talented Kier Rakestraw and used with permission
Photo of entire group of people provided by Trevor Austin and used with permission