Mr. Bob Bates is a delightful gentleman whom I met when I was attending a Midori-kai Alumni Intensive study retreat at Konnichi-an, Urasenke- in Kyoto Japan, in June of 2018. It was great to spend time with him and the others during the very rare opportunity of practicing in the Heisei Tea rooms in the Konnichi -an precinct. The main tea rooms are undergoing major restoration and repair; so the Heisei Tea rooms are bustling with activity. While we were there he informed me that he might be able to visit me in Salt Lake City some time in August of the same year. This would be a special occasion since, aside from Sadler Sensei, there no one else in this area who is well versed in the basics of Cha no Yu. Most of the people whom I invite to any tea gathering know nothing of Cha do or its subtle expressions. When a person who is knowledgeable comes along- who is kind and thoughtful- well that is a rare treat. I do thank my lucky stars for Sadler Sensei; with out her, it would be a lonely existence of tea practice indeed.
Mr. Bob would be coming in the morning and knew that we were to enjoy usucha and a light meal. Since it was the height of the hot season so i used my small ‘Unryu-gama’ kettle and kept the fire to a minimum. The water container was wet well bucket style favored by Sen no Rikyu. The kogo incense box was an open cricket cage in the waiting room. Above it was a sumi-e of a cricket under a sprig of bush clover. Did he escape his cage? Since Bob was a traveler, I used a kamashiki pad of old maps. The meal was simple; Hash browns for the ‘rice’, yogurt for the ‘soup’, and sausage for the ‘mukozuke’. Orange juice was served in two Hawaiian tiki goblets. Cheese and fruit was served on a wooden dish in the shape of a shark’s egg. The shikishi was by one of the abbots of a sub temple in Daitoku ji. The hanaire flower container was acquired from the same trip. The chaki tea caddy was a small ceramic pumpkin/gourd made by Ginger Lieberfritz, and the chashaku tea scoop was carved and named by Randy Channel Sensei- “Ii Tomo” (good friend). We both ate together and talked of all things Tea. It was quiet, serene, and very enjoyable. It was the first time that I had hosted such an intimate gathering. Mr Bob knows his stuff; his mere presence and countenance spoke volumes of his understanding of the Cha do spirit. It was a truly special event and I will always treasure this memory.by