Today I decided to give myself a Mother’s Day gift. Most people wouldn’t call it a gift. After all, it was just my usual morning cup of coffee, made the same way I make it every day. But I decided this cup of coffee would be special because it was a gift from me to me.
Walking into the kitchen, I felt deep gratitude for the space. This bright, sunny, Minnesota May morning was beautiful, but also very chilly. I was thankful for my warm house, the fuzzy robe Gracie had given me years ago and the toasty slippers my parents gave me for Christmas.
Taking a deep breath, I exhaled and relaxed, allowing my gaze to wander to the old formica kitchen table that had once belonged to my grandma. The old table was a reminder of days spent making popcorn balls and Rice Krispie treats. When I was little, Grandma used to make me a cup of homemade tea made with mint leaves from her garden and sweetened with lots of sugar. At age eight, I was grown up enough to drink a warm concoction of half milk, half coffee and lots of sugar.
Grandma’s old formica table is covered with a bright sunflower tablecloth that picks up the cheerful yellow color of my kitchen walls. My mom and I picked out the fabric together. Then she sewed it into the little table cloth that fits my table perfectly. My parents’ love fills this kitchen, which they painstakingly remodeled with new cabinets, countertops and fresh paint.
Walking to the kitchen sink, I took another deep breath, exhaled and filled my electric hot water kettle, marveling at the clear, clean water that streams from my faucet at the mere flick of a handle. Setting the water on the heating element, I pressed the “on” button and voila! The unfathomable mystery that is “electricity” began to heat the water in my kettle. The kettle’s heating element created a surge in demand for my kitchen’s electricity, causing the fridge to hum at a lower frequency.
A fridge! I have a fridge! And a freezer too. They keep things cold and fresh. The fridge is filled with delicious fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese and many other delicacies. I have an abundance of food right at my fingertips… so much that I actually need to DECIDE what to eat for meals!
I allowed my breathing to slow even further, relaxing into the sound of the fridge’s hum. The water in the kettle was hot. Walking to the cupboard, I took a bag of coffee from the shelf. Opening the bag, I breathed in the scent of coffee grounds, marveling at the series of miracles that brought this coffee to my shelf.
Somewhere in Latin America, on the eastern slope of a hillside high in the mountains, a shrubby coffee plant once held the beans that were in this bag. The beans were happy little berries, soaking up the warm morning sun. At night, under a blanket of stars, they soaked up moonlight and starlight too. Rain watered them and they drew nutrients from soil that has been feeding the mother plant for her entire life.
A man or woman picked those beans when they were perfectly ripe. The beans were carefully dried, being monitored for mold. What miracle of fate had to occur for these berries from a distant land to travel from grower to roaster to store to my cupboard? Shouldn’t this cup cost a king’s ransom? And yet here, I’m scooping the chocolatey brown grounds into my little cloth Costa Rican pour-over filter without a single care about the cost. As a matter of a fact, I could even choose to make myself a second cup when this one is done! What decadence!
With anticipation, I pour the first little stream of hot water from the electric kettle, then stop. The grounds greedily soak up the first water they’ve been exposed to in months, releasing fragrant silky little bubbles in delight. I savor the pungent aroma of wet coffee grounds. How does a plant create such a rich, earthy, delicious smell? I pour more water over the grounds and watch as it passes through my filter in a sinuous stream, catching sunlight from the kitchen window.
The sound of coffee trickling into my cup tinkles like a brook, higher in pitch as I move its stream closer to the edge of the cup, lower in pitch as I move it to the center of the mug. I’m pouring this special Mother’s Day coffee into a forest green University of Vermont mug Gracie thoughtfully sent me for Mother’s Day. It has the word “Mom” embossed in big block letters.
I think of my babies, the reason I have the privilege of celebrating Mother’s Day. Christopher belly laughs to something he’s watching on Tik-Tok upstairs. I feel a surge of love for him and his boy-becoming-a-man laugh. I think of Callie stretching in the warmth of a summer morning in Costa Rica and am filled with gratitude for her adventurous spirit.
Returning my attention to the cup in front of me, I see it’s nearly full and eagerly anticipate the first sip. Dumping the grounds from the little cloth filter into my compost bowl, I think of fresh-from-the-garden carrots that will grow tall when fertilized with these coffee grounds. I rinse the filter and am again amazed at the ease with which water pours from the faucet.
Turning to the fridge, I open the door and remove a milk carton, mind-boggled at the process required to get milk from inside a cow to my humble cup of coffee. Returning the milk to the fridge, I get ready to take my first sip, and realize my Mother’s Day gift has already been received.