When their house burned to the ground, all they had left was tea

It’s by no means a funny story when someone loses their house to fire, not to mention their pet rats, but there was one weird detail that Nick Werner of the Star Press included in his story about the tragedy that hit the Bailey family of Eaton, Indiana. The family of three woke up early Thursday to find their house on fire. Over the course of the next few hours, it burned down, reportedly started from a barbecue at an outdoor fireplace to kick off summer the day before. Toward the end of the story, in a good bit of scene-setting, Werner writes:

On Thursday, the sun tea Allen (Bailey) had set out to brew the day before on the patio railing was about the only thing the family had left.

If you live near Eaton, take some time this weekend to drop off money, clothes or household items at Lakeview Greens golf course, at 18921 N. Delaware County Road 150-E. But if you don’t live near Eaton (I don’t), make a jar of sun tea mindful of the fact that it could be the only thing you own tomorrow when you get up, and reflect on the transience of material possessions.

This weekend, it’s not going to be hot in the Northeast, but it will be sunny. That means it’s a good time to wash out an old jar, fill it with water and teabags, and set it out on the porch or in a window. Here’s a not-so-secret recipe for sun tea that’s a little different: add mint leaves, 5-10 whole cloves, a stick of cinnamon and/or some shavings of orange peel to the water in addition to the tea. Put it out in the morning, and wait until mid-afternoon to bring it in. Fish out the orange peels and mint leaves, add the juice of a half or whole lemon, and put the whole jar immediately in the fridge.

And be glad you have a fridge to put it in.


About Don Seiffert

I'm a reporter and writer in the Boston area.
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2 Responses to When their house burned to the ground, all they had left was tea

  1. Jim Walker says:

    That’s a terrible situation for that family so I will keep any attempts at bad jokes to myself. I will say from one journalist to another that I really dig that the reporter led with the detail on the tea. If the fire had taken (human) lives it would have been inappropriate but since the losses were pretty much all property it made sense. That small detail and your thoughts on it as well made me pause this morning to look around my home and think about the loss of all our stuff. And how starting over could begin with just one thing … in this case a glass of iced tea.

  2. donseiffert says:

    Yeah I probably would have done the same thing writing that story if I saw a jar of sun tea in a railing amidst the burnt out ruins of a house. I just wonder if they ever drank the tea.

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