The aroma of percolating coffee

>> Thursday, June 12, 2008


I've never been much of a coffee drinker. I'm not particularly fond of it, and if I drink too much of it, it gives me a headache. However, I've always been rather partial to the aroma. I love to walk by coffee shops and/or cafes and take in the delicious aroma of all the various brews. I most especially like the smell of coffee when mingled with the redolence of eggs and bacon frying in a skillet. It always triggers something in me that leaves me feeling warm and content. One day I sat down and tried to figure out what it was about these aromas that were so appealing to me and it quickly came to me that they brought back some very pleasant childhood memories.

My maternal grandparents lived on a large farm near Bowden, a small rural community just between Tulsa and Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Their house was a large Victorian, built a few years before statehood, (that was in 1907). It was two storied with a creaky wooden stairway, a front parlor, a dining room, and kitchen in the back, with a squeaky wooden screen door that locked with a metal hook. It had a huge wrap-around porch with a gigantic oak tree in the front. Grandpa hung a tire swing from one of the branches for us to swing on. I'm not sure how many acres he had, but it was quite a lot. He had cattle & chickens, two large ponds that he kept stocked with catfish, a big wooden barn with cats, a huge vegetable garden laden with lettuce, tomatoes, squash, peas, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, and corn, fruit orchards with peaches and pears, red & green peppers of several varieties, blackberry & raspberry bushes, and a flower garden. There were streams and meadows, and lots of places to run and play. It was a childhood dreamland.

One of my fondest memories is waking up early in the mornings to the smells of bacon and eggs frying in Grandma's cast iron skillet, and freshly ground coffee perking in the percolator, (this was before automatic drip coffee makers). I would try to sneak down the creaky wooden stairs in my footie pajamas, down the hallway, through the dining room, past the huge gas stove, to the kitchen doorway. I'd hide for just a second and then I'd jump out, shouting, "BOO!". Grandma would always jump and pretend to be startled. "You SCARED me!", she would exclaim, although I knew she was kidding because there was no way that she couldn't have known I was coming, between the squeaky stairway and creaking floorboards.

Years later, the aromas of bacon frying and coffee brewing always bring these happy memories forward and I am reminded of how very blessed I was to have grown up with such experiences. As a child I didn't understand that it wasn't like this for every child, and that one day I would cherish these memories, and even long for those early mornings at Grandpa and Grandma's farm.

UPDATE: JUNE 16, 2008

I received a phone call from my dad in Tulsa informing me that Grandma had collapsed in her nursing home room sometime during the night. She is currently in the hospital battling a number of infections in her intestines as well as pneumonia. She is 96 years old.

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