Saturday, August 29, 2009

Coffee: It's Not Just About the Caffeine

Part I:                             
When I was a little girl, we lived just close enough to both sets of our grandparents to visit each of them a couple times a year. My grandmothers were as opposite as two women could be and their homes were just as opposite, so visiting each of them was a unique treat.

My mother's parents lived about five hours away from us, in a little white house in the woods of North Carolina, a family home for almost a century. They had a big screened-in porch in our younger days with a row of grey-painted rocking chairs and a glider, and the yard was full of trees dripping Spanish moss. We spent a lot of time rocking on the long porch swatting flies, and many a hot summer afternoon playing Star Trek in the crepe myrtle trees. The kitchen was paneled in pine, seasoned to a warm toast-brown patina; white ruffled curtains hung at the window. My grandmother always had a Currier and Ives calendar hanging on the wall and a silver percolater plugged in on the counter. The big old white stove in the corner had cooked so many egg and bacon breakfasts we fancied it might be able to do it all by itself. Except for we couldn't imagine that stove without our grandmother leaning over it.

My mother's mother was a tiny, pretty woman with beautiful brown eyes and snowy white hair, such a contrast to my grandfather who was a giant of a man, balding and blue eyed. Her name was Mamie, his was John, and their tender devotion to one another was a thing of beauty we recognized even as kids. Every morning, before anyone else was stirring in the house, we would hear my grandmother's slipper-scuffs tread softly across the living room. There would be a pause and the quiet noise of her working in the kitchen, then the sound of her padding back to bed. We would hear the low murmer of our grandparents' voices, and then the sound of the percolator swooshing and "kagunking" in the kitchen. Several of us, hearing our grandparents were up, would go join them in their big four-post bed and add to their gentle discussion, while the smell of the coffee wafted in from the kitchen.
Mommom (we called her "Mommom") would get up after a bit and bring back a cup of coffee for Poppop (that's what we called him), and we would talk and giggle until the dim light of early morning brightened the room. Mommom would get up after a bit and shoo us out so she could dress, then she'd go out to start the breakfast: bacon and eggs, her biscuits, and another pot of coffee before the morning was through. The grown-ups would be stirring their second cups and talking around the kitchen table as we headed out to play in the trees, the smell of bacon and coffee lingering on our clothes.

Life was good.

And it's been good visiting with you this morning in my country grandmother's kitchen.
Next Saturday morning: My Baltimore city Grandmother


Diana said...

What lovely sweet memories Lisa! And I can smell the bacon and coffee scents lingering in the air! Nice!
Love Di

Eileen said...

Oh, that was just beautiful -- and so beautifully-told! I'm so glad you took the time to share it!

I wish I could have known my own grandparents better. Both of my parents were youngest or near-youngest in their families, and I only briefly knew my mom's mom (she died when I was 5), and my dad's mom when I was 17. Both grandpas had died long before I was born.

What a lucky little girl you were!

Bia said...

I can totally picture that house...and the swooshing percolator...what lovely memories.

Why does the smell of coffee always invoke such wonderful memories? Even to this day when I smell espresso I can see my Nonna spooning grounds into her Bialetti espresso maker, her hands large and work worn.

MightyMom said...

oh how that made me long for my Grandma.

Laura said...

I am drinking coffee while reading this wonderful post....ahhhh.
Very comforting. All of it.

Natalie said...

Lovely post. Growing up, my family would sit on the front porch drinking coffee (even my 5 year old brother, but his was mostly milk and sugar). We would watch the dogs play and hear the hummingbirds fly by and even see a few deer by the pond in the morning. I love living out in the country and miss it.

Anonymous said...

What lovely pictures you paint - thanks for sharing.

Linda Higgins said...

Lisa, that was a lovely post about your grandparents. I never knew my grandparents. I have only a few memories....only for a one time visit when I was 8 years old. They lived in Holland and my parents immigrated here to the states when I was a baby with my 3 older brothers. I miss that. I miss having memories of grandparents, so I try my best to be someone my grandchildren will not forget...hope I am making memories....

Kim H. said...

Reminds me of mornings on my Great Aunt Theresa's farm -- those were some of my best childhood memories.

I can almost hear the mooing cows as I read your post.

So wonderful, Lisa! You are such a blessing!

Aubrey said...

Very interesting! I enjoyed "seeing" your grandparents through your childhood eyes.

Now I'm curious about your opposite set of grandparents. I think that my sets of grandparents are as opposite as you can get and my husband says the same thing about his two sets of grandparents.

I see my own parents as grandparents now and I see the same thing--opposites from each other and also from my husband's parents.