Last Wednesday, James and I accompanied our dear friend L. to a Tea Room in Nevada City. It’s upstairs from an antique store; part of the same family business which has been in town for many years.

Ordinarily, James and I wouldn’t seek out such a place, but L. has been wanting us to go there with her for a long time now.

It was an honest-to-goodness tea room in the British tradition. Little round tables were covered with heavy white tablecloths, set with gleaming, substantial silverware; white porcelain teapots with tea-cosies, whose fabric exactly matched the wallpaper; little silver covered dishes with clotted cream, lemon curd and jam for the scones.

Classical music was discreetly piped into the room, which had high ceilings and crystal chandeliers. It would have been even nicer with a live harpist, I thought. In fact, I spoke to the owner after our lunch and she seemed receptive about having me play there some time, so I’ll keep you posted on that!

Our table was located near a small kitchen, where three women garbed in crisp aprons — again, matching the wallpaper and tea cosies! — prepared the light fare and set up the teapots.

There were only a couple other small groups at tables a discreet distance from ours, so the general atmosphere was private and quiet. It was lovely, really; harkening to an earlier era characterized by leisurely grace.

The little tea-sandwiches, scones and cakes were delicious, and I enjoyed my individual pot of Kensington Ceylon tea so much that I later bought a tin of it in the shop downstairs.

The waitress knew L. by name, so obviously our friend is a regular. After this thoroughly enjoyable, “civilized” experience, I can see why. We look forward to many more visits.

After lunch, we brought L. up to the land In the Woods, as we had invited her to stay overnight. In fact she is the owner of this 38 acres of property, and is very pleased with our tenancy and what we’ve already accomplished in the barn and attached rooms.

Almost every Wednesday, there is a sit-down dinner hosted at the hotel on the town’s main street. Various cooks take turns preparing the meals, which cost only $6. It is a nice opportunity for locals to eat home-cooked food and socialize.

James and I had not heard about these dinners until last week.

We thought it would be a good chance for L. to meet some of the locals, and perhaps connect with someone from her past years of coming up here, as she bought the land up the hill from town in 1969.

Although she didn’t know any of the dinner participants directly, several of the locals recognized the names that L. remembered from years past.

That week’s cook, Paul, was the same one who prepared the best chili I’ve ever eaten, at last month’s fundraiser for a local boy with cancer. So I looked forward to this dinner.

We were not disappointed. Paul himself came out to serve huge bowls of beef stew, brimming with potatoes and carrots and onions. This was topped off by homemade biscuits.

Perhaps a dozen people sat around a long table in the middle of the main room of the hotel, adjoining the historic, picturesque full bar. Many objects dating back from mining days adorn the walls and ceiling, which create a homey atmosphere.

We knew all the people at the table, some better than others; the ones who regularly attend the weekly “Saturday Trailer Trash Potluck” dinners were the most familiar, since we stayed at the campground on Main St. for a couple of months this summer.

So there was L., dressed in her embroidered Chinese jacket and adorned with gold jewelry, sitting in the midst of women in T-shirts or flannel and jeans. She remarked softly to me that she will “dress down” next time.

But no-one batted an eyelash or made any kind of judgement about L.’s obvious “class”.

Generally, James and I have found that the locals are welcoming and accepting; after all, here we are a gay couple, and no-one appears to have a problem with that.

After the delicious dinner, the three of us adjourned to the bar in the next room. This, too, contains many historical objects from the mid-1800s when this mining town first appeared in the middle of the woods, when gold was extracted from the Yuba River which is located just behind the hotel.

The young bartender “Rye” looks like a big, shaggy biker. He recognized us from our few past visits and was very amiable. We introduced him to L. and he tipped an imaginary hat while saying “Ma’am”.

There were a few familiar local guys at the bar who seemed to know us by sight, but we haven’t formally met most of them. They looked at the three of us curiously for a moment but didn’t stare. We all eventually exchanged bits and pieces of conversation as we enjoyed our drinks.

The guys didn’t seem to feel inhibited by the presence of a lady, yet I imagine that they might have toned down their usual rough language just a tad. L. mentioned this later, and hit the nail on the head when she said that mountain men are ‘often chivalrous’. Yes, I believe this to be true.

I will never forget the sight of this fine woman sitting on a bar-stool in this local, rather rough and down-home establishment, and enjoying herself immensely!

L. kept laughing about the day’s events — starting out at an elegant tea-room and ending up at the local bar. She remarked, “From the sublime to the ridiculous”, hence the title of this post.

She didn’t really mean that the conclusion of the evening was ridiculous, per se, but it was quite a contrast from our genteel lunch earlier in the afternoon.

A good time was had by all and I was pleasantly surprised when we received several genuine, nice “goodbyes” when we left.

Yes, we are liking this tiny town (population 166) and its people, very much.

And tonight is Wednesday and we’re attending this week’s sit-down dinner. Paul is cooking again, this time it’s chicken stew. Yum!