A Tearoom in Corn Country

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit a tearoom in the middle of nowhere. Clotted cream, lemon balm jelly, finger sandwiches, the whole bit.

We’re in Iowa this week, spending time with Adam’s family while he does some work out here. His grandmother invited me to join her “Red Hat” group for a trip to this tearoom. Gram, Aunt Becky, a caravan of ladies (many, but not all, wearing red hats and purple shirts), and me, drove out across the farmland. We drove forty-five minutes into the country to find this place.

It was beautiful. The family had built a house with bright red siding, white trim, dormer windows, and a gorgeous flower garden up on a rise, with views of rolling grass and farmland in all direction. The wind and sun were something fierce, or I would’ve taken some pictures.

The tearoom used to be their three car garage. It seats about forty, and is filled with Victorian bric-and-brac, including lots of teacups and teapots. And a memorial teapot for Princess Diana.

The food was good – there were little chocolate star cookies spiced with cinnamon that I loved. I found the tea a bit weak, I’m afraid. But I was struck with how strange it all was. Here we were, mostly older ladies in red hats, in a three-car garage full of drapery, teacups, and pictures of cherubs, in the middle of corn country. The sun was beating down, there were beef cattle grazing a stone’s throw from the door, the hot wind was whipping around the house, and inside, the owner, literally, encouraged us to imagine that we were in England.

This is only human. We like to imagine we’re somewhere else. American settlers named their towns after the places they left behind in Europe or after places they knew in their Bibles. We go to the movies to live in another universe for a while. We put things in our houses that remind us of the life we’d like to be living, whether it’s furniture, gadgets, books, or exotic snacks. Sometimes it fits together rather well; sometimes it’s more incongruous, like a tearoom out in the middle of nowhere.

The boyfriend of a friend of mine, when they couldn’t afford a trip to New York City, took her on an “I Love New York” tour of Minneapolis, and they pretended to visit Central Park, the Empire State Building, and other New York landmarks.

Sometimes home is where we’re from, and sometimes it’s where we wish we were. Sometimes it’s both.

I live in a house that I pretend is on a farm. My neighbor actually said that over the fence to me the other day, “You have a regular farm, here!”

I also pretend my house is part of an old university library. And a Norweigian hytta, or summer cabin. (Sometime, I’ll post some photos.) And maybe a saltbox Cape Cod.

So, I don’t look down on the teahouse. I’m not sure I admire it, either. But I get it.


  1. Hello, Vicar! Where in corn country is this tearoom? It could be a day trip for us. Good to see your blog again, and so good to read your descriptions!

  2. Dick Murphy says:

    “……..in the middle of nowhere” you say? Well, your uncle Jud used to live there and he told me it was the center of the universe. And he is right.

  3. Hi Raisin! This place is out in New Virginia – Miss Spencer’s Tearoom. They’re not open like a regular restaurant, because of their location. She takes groups – so you have to bring 15 people for your first visit.

    Hi Dick! Of course. You see, I don’t mean “nowhere” as a pejorative. Although it does make drawing commerce to your business challenging. (See above.)