Memories in a Coffee Pot

This small, forlorn coffee pot holds a barrel of memories for me.

My parents had a coffee ritual. Most days, unless my dad was out working in a far-off field, he would come in around 4 p.m. for coffee and a snack. It might be fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, or warm whole wheat bread with butter and chokecherry jelly, “wonderberry” (wild berries similar to blueberries) pie, or vanilla ice cream smothered in fresh sliced peaches.

Mom placed a generous scoop of coffee grounds in the pot and poured boiling water on top, letting it “steep”, like tea. After a few minutes, she or Dad would blow into the spout to settle the grounds, and pour the strong, aromatic brew into their cups. Strangely enough, they never seemed to have to deal with grounds floating on top.

Even when we were working outside together in the heat of the summer, stacking bales, a thermos of coffee marked afternoon break-time in the shade of a growing hay stack.

An extra special occasion, Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary on Christmas Eve, began with that coffee. As the lavender shadows of dusk gathered, Mom would dress in her holiday outfit, bring out the Christmas goodies, and brew the coffee.

Although I didn’t like coffee and didn’t start drinking it until I was in my 30s, this “coffee time” was a hugely important part of my life, growing up on a ranch in eastern Montana. It wasn’t just a time to stave off hunger pangs until supper, it was a time of togetherness, an important family ritual.

Even after my mother died, my dad continued the afternoon coffee observance.

I am downsizing in anticipation of a move in the near future, and I had to make a painful decision to discard this coffee pot. But the memories will live on.

Published in: on September 5, 2012 at 6:00 am  Comments (10)  
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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So sad to discard such a memorable piece; is this the beginning of your memoir?

    • No, just a nostalgic observation. But it’s something to keep in mind, I suppose.

  2. Heidi, that’s a lovely story. What a rich memory! Even though you had to give up the coffee pot, you not only have the memory, buy the lovely picture and story to go with it.

  3. Thanks for sharing your “coffee memories” Heidi. My parents, grand parents and aunts and uncles all observed that same late afternoon coffee break. It was my mother’s mother, a lady of French descent, who “taught” me to drink chicory coffee from a tiny china cup at exactly 4 o’clock every afternoon. I was so young she’d pour cream into the cup to almost full then add a cube of sugar and about a tablespoon of the syrup-thick French coffee. She called it my Coffee Milk. Love those memories.

  4. That’s a good story, Heidi. One thing we learned long ago is that we can’t keep every nostalgic item we’d like.

  5. Lovely story, and I’m not sure I could part with the old coffeepot. One thing I have started doing is taking old items like that, breaking them, and putting the broken china in paving stones. That way the memories stay here in a way. Not sure my kids will ever keep the stones when I’m gone, though. (smile)

    Coffee seems to be the drink of choice for many farmers, and I was surprised when I moved here to East Texas and discovered my neighbors did not drink coffee. Lots of other local farmers do. I see them frequently at the diner in town talking about crops and weather and horses and cattle, but these neighbors never drink it.

  6. Thank you all for sharing a cuppa with me! What a good idea, Maryann, to put broken china into paving stones. I wish I had thought of that! I’m really a “keeper” of everything and it gets to a point where you just have to de-clutter.

    Karen, lovely memories of your Coffee Milk. On special occasions as a kid I would get Tea Milk–similar to your treat.

    My grandparents were also tea drinkers. My grandpa, who wore long underwear even in summer, said hot drinks helped cool you off (by making you sweat, I guess!) I don’t subscribe to his philosophy! LOL.

  7. Glad you still have a photo of the coffee pot and the wonderful memories, Heidi!

    Morgan Mandel

  8. A picture will remind you of the old coffee and you wont have to worry about breaking it in your move. Precious memories I am sure.

  9. Oh Heidi! I would have been happy to keep it for you until you could take it again. That had to have been so hard to leave behind! Are you leaving Montana? My husband was born there.

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