Friday, September 12, 2008

A Fresh can of Coffee

My husband loves freshly ground coffee, so we have a supply of green coffee beans that he roasts and then grinds when he wants coffee, usually on the weekend. The trouble is, he likes his coffee roasted until it is so dark that it seems burnt to me. I'm too bourgeois. Just give me a nice, common can of "Good to the Last Drop" Maxwell House and I'm happy, so I keep a can of my favorite in the refrigerator just for myself. This morning after my husband had left for work and it was time for me to make my breakfast, I opened a fresh can of coffee and closed my eyes and let myself be wafted away by that glorious fragrance. Just where was I wafted, you might ask? Well, I was taken back to a nicer time; a time when the world was right, the morning sun shone brightly through the crisp, white, ruffled kitchen curtains, and I was safe and loved. It was the mid-1950's and that fragrance brought to life my 50 years younger mother on a sunny Saturday morning, bustling around the kitchen creating breakfast for her brood of five. That coffee fragrance means love to me, and warmth, and total acceptance, and a place in the cosmos that is just mine. Those happy, childhood mornings were full of Mama's voice (which always sounded to me like there was a song hiding just behind the words giving a lilting melody to them) calling us kids, Daddy singing or whistling in the bathroom while he shaved, which we kids loved to watch. We would all gather around the crowded kitchen table on those wonderful Saturday mornings, each of us in our own spot, Daddy would say "grace," and Mama would keep our plates filled with eggs and bacon and toast made under the oven broiler because we didn't have a toaster and didn't know we needed one. Daddy would take my younger brother, who was just a baby, and bounce him on his knee and call him "Gem," which I misunderstood as "Jim" and wondered why he called him that when that was not his name. It was only many years later that I realized that Daddy thought of his children, his babies, as gems. Sometimes Daddy would tell us a story, but usually Daddy and Mama would talk about what they were going to do that day. Most of the time we kids got to watch Saturday morning TV, and then outside to play. Sometimes Daddy needed us all outside to help clean up the yard. He was meticulous and relentless. He would mow, and we all had to do something to help, most of us were set to walk over every square inch of that yard and pick up every stone and twig no matter how small. We all complained and cried, but when we were finished, we could run anywhere in that velvety soft yard barefoot and never bruise our feet on sticks or stones. We didn't know that Daddy was loving us and caring for us when he had us "work like slaves." I discovered that I loved to take the shears and cut and pull the weeds out of the fences. I loved to see the fence come out of the raggedy weeds and look neat and trim again. I loved raking the cut weeds, too, to get them out of the way and make the yard look so neat. We kids, though, moaned and groaned, and gave our poor parents all kinds of grief for treating us like "slaves." I didn't dare say how much I liked cleaning the weeds from the fences and from the rose bushes Daddy grew in the side yard. That just wouldn't do when the other four kids were so adamant about being treated so badly. I particularly liked cleaning out the weeds from the fence in the side yard. We had a huge wild cherry tree there, which I loved to climb, book in hand, as high as I dared and sit there for hours and read and feel the tree sway in the wind. High in that tree was where I spent most of my summer days. We also had a large lilac bush and a large rose bush that stood side by side, and when they bloomed, usually around Mother's Day, it was glorious. These two bushes stood just behind the grapevine arbor that made a hidden cave, that was cool and sweet in those hot summer days.


  1. I'm with your hubby on coffee darkness, but I love where your sniff took you. Thank you for taking me!

  2. What a wonderful memory! Thanks for sharing it! Unfortunately, I don't like coffee and it doesn't like me anymore. But I do love the smell!!

  3. What a lovely story. Thank you!

    In Christ,

    +Fr Gregory

    p.s., Thanks as well for the pictures of St Elizabeth in Etna--I visited there when I lived down in Redding and would make trips up I5 through Medford and then drive over to Crescent City (the other part of my parish--ah, to be young again!)


  4. Father Gregory, bless.

    Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting.

    I love to visit the monasteries in Etna, CA. Unfortunately, I'm no longer a "spring chicken," either, and traveling long distances really upsets my aging constitution. Perhaps some day I might be able to go back for another visit, but I'm not betting the grocery money on it. Mother Elizabeth is my godmother and, on occasion, a spiritual advisor, so when I visit, it's a particularly wonderful moment.

    Kissing your right hand,