Family Life / On Reading / On Writing / The Social Network

Impressive

It happens to us all. A fragment of a song gets stuck in our heads. If we watched the Grammy Awards last night (I didn’t, opting instead for British drama — ah, ‘Downton Abbey,’ how I love thee…), we might have Gotye’s ‘record of the year’ to battle against. In my case, Shania Twain keeps singing a certain refrain this morning, and while the song ought to be forgettable, its recurring message of ‘impressibility’ apparently has some staying power. ‘Rocket science’ brilliance, movie star looks, hot wheels, Elvis Presley magnetism. Those don’t impress Shania (or me, incidentally) much. But little, dependable things — coffee, wind howling, soft dog snores and the intermittent thump of clothes tumbling in the dryer — these signs of a quiet, durable life make their own lasting impression.

Every day of my growing up began with the distinctive aroma of Folgers coffee brewed on the stovetop in a Revere Ware percolator.

Coffee the Old-fashioned Way

These days fresh-brewed deliciousness still greets the morning and me, though we use a CuisineArt coffeemaker and our snobby beans are freshly ground, thank-you-very-much. Time changes nearly everything — a nation’s borders, a city’s streets, a family’s tree — but coffee, with its warmth and familial comfort, suggests a sameness, a reliable port in the storms of life. Can a cup o’ joe ‘fix’ anything? Not a chance, unless one has a bit of a caffeine addiction. Still, it hints at security.

Ahhhh. Coffee....

And we do need that fix of certainty, no matter our adventures.

Coffee’s aroma might be the olfactory trigger of warm memories, but a good, stiff wind and its plaintive howl remain the distinctive sound of my growing up years. As the alarm clanged this morning at 0:dark-thirty, the wind was already up, and from the sounds of it, in a bit of a rage. Six hours later, the attitude continues. Whistling down the chimney flue and whining around corners, the wind stops at, and for, nothing. I expect a semi-truck driver or two may curse its wayward gusting as they hurtle down the nation’s highways. Meteorologists, to their delight I am sure, dot their interactive weather maps with swooping graphic arrows to announce what our own eyes and ears recognize automatically, while the birds simply ride the howling currents, banking here, soaring there, or sensibly grounding themselves when the gales grow unmanageable. When the winds rage (oh, I hear Lear‘s “howl, howl, howl” of despair, don’t you?) and standing up against them proves too much, we need safe haven. I remember Mom’s kitchen and Dad’s hands, warming ’round a cup of hot coffee on a cold winter’s day. A creaky farmhouse, stable in the midst of the high plains’ drifting winds. A family security worth emulating here at the ‘Crossroads of America.’

I’ve been curled up here on a comfy sofa for a couple of hours. Scanning the Twitter feed. Noting the status updates. Reading the headlines. Drinking coffee and smiling as the wind interrupts the quiet. These days, our old pooch usually naps at my feet while my nose is stuck in a book or my fingers peck away at my keyboard. This morning though, he’s been curled up on his bed in the laundry room, where his snores mingle with the steady hum of the dryer. He is wholly unfazed by the wind, though his morning patrol of the house and yard demanded a bit of a balancing act for the predictable hind leg lifts, which obviously wore him out.

snoring peacefully

Signs of the ‘quiet life’: a peaceful room while the winds blow, a snoring dog while the clothes dry, a warm cup of coffee while I chase after words. A safe haven for the dog and for me. That impresses me. Much.

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