More Than Coffee

Walk into my kitchen right this moment and you might think you smell coffee, freshly brewed and filling the room with it’s cozy aroma.

And you would be wrong.

Sure, there is a pot of coffee waiting to be served, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a portal to the past. A glimpse into the summers of yesteryear.

On a summer evening with the windows open and the coffee on, I am transported to my childhood. To summer evenings as the sun slips away and the busyness of the day settles into contented quiet.

I hear the laughter of my extended family as we wrap up our annual holiday weekend barbeque. I detect voices of unseen passers-by taking in an evening stroll behind our house. If you’re still, there’s the sound of the tree frogs, the crickets, a motorcycle far off in the distance, the unique squeak of our backyard gate.

Walk back inside and there’s the aroma again and immediately I’m ten years old, rushing into the house for a drink between rounds of “Ghost in the Graveyard” or “Hide-and-Seek”. I can almost taste the Rice Krispie square I grabbed on my way outside to join in again.

Cousins, friends, family.

It’s not just coffee, it’s the backdrop to hospitality, gathering together, shared moments.

Memories.

Love.

Few things have this power for me. There is a magical force when open windows let in a summer evening breeze and waft that dark elixir into the air.

It’s not just coffee.

_______

Miss you, Maggie.

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Bookends and Swings

“Are you taking just the Bookends then?” Bearded Husband asked as I headed out the door. That was a new nickname he came up with as I got ready to take our oldest and youngest to the park. The Middles were happy playing Camp in our bedroom, so I opted to leave them be.

Off we went, the Bookends and me. Those two boys look the most alike of the four. Watching the toddler sometimes takes me back eight years to that special time I had with just #1.  We don’t often have a lot of time together, just me and the Bookends, my babies.

As we walked to the park, Oldest asked Little if he wanted a piggyback ride because, “I can do that you know, Mommy.”  I remember giving you all kinds of piggyback rides, baby, and am glad you still ask for them albeit less often.

Oldest raced to the swings, his main reason for coming along. He loves to scale the poles and climb. He is particularly fond of swinging higher and higher and then jumping off.  I stopped myself from saying “be careful” and instead admired his abilities. I remember when the slide was too scary to try without me, buddy, now look what you can do.

“Watch me, Mommy! See what I did, Little? Want to come on the swings with me?”

Little raced over and hopped onto the swing beside his biggest brother.

“No high, Mommy, no high.”

“Go high?”

“Yeah, no, no high.”

“Not too high?”

“Yeah.”

You got it, baby boy. 

And there I was pushing my Bookends on the swings. Memories of taking #1 to the park just the two of us came flooding back, followed by snapshots of each of my boys at that age. The giggles, the grins, grabbing their little feet.

“I want to swing at the same time as Little,” Oldest asked. So I changed the pace so they could swing side by side. They grinned at each other, swinging in tandem. But slowly, Oldest was going higher and faster again and they were back to their own rhythms. After a few moments, Oldest abandoned the swings and Little started to follow. I sat down and slowly began swinging on my own. And I thought, this is how it’s going to be. My boys are becoming their own persons.

Then my Oldest, my original baby boy, turned back and came to push me. And Little hopped onto my lap. And I could smell the sand and heat from his neck and see Oldest’s shadow as he gave us one last push before climbing a new challenge. I watched him scale the fire pole with Little cuddling with me and I realized: This is how it is supposed to be. 

We walked home for dinner and Little decided it was okay to hold our hands. As we walked along, Oldest and I did “One, Two, Three…Wheee!” and swung Little repeatedly the whole way. Yesterday, I was the little one being swung, I blinked and I was the one swinging. Slow down, slow down.

“We don’t have time like this very often, just the three of us do we, Mommy?”

No, baby, but we should. We will, my Bookends.