Up the Creek: Coffee as Tradition
Up the Creek
Ken M. Blomberg
He wondered if it really makes a difference. When he was a younger man there never seemed enough time. Moments were fleeting back then – work, family, play – always pulling him away from something equally as important. But today, at 60-something, he makes sure to take time for things like a second cup of coffee in the morning. Now retired, the old man is blessed with more disposable time.
It’s a tradition that began at home the day he found himself free from working man obligations. On the deck overlooking his kennel’s training field, he began drinking a second cup of coffee following morning chores. There he’d sit and ponder life’s pleasures and new-found challenges. In late summer, when morning heat indexes drove others indoors, he’d wait out the sun and humidity in favor of a second cup of coffee. Roasted coffee beans, he deduced, must have mystical properties. Much like a classic Linda Ronstadt melody, caffeine and coffee’s intoxicating aroma stimulates his morning brain – allowing him to ponder.
Across the prairie field he watched bluestem, Indian and switch grasses swaying in unison and keeping time to chipping sparrow melodies. Southwesterly winds carried dragonflies, hummingbirds and monarch butterflies as they danced across the grasslands they call home. And a pair of sandhill cranes fed quietly across the gravel road in a harvested field of grain as two hen turkeys passed by, followed by their combined broods – born a week apart and numbering fifteen at last count. The old man took another sip of coffee and smiled.
He dreamed of fall and this year’s grouse camp. There, the cook will wake up before dawn, stoke the woodstove and prepare the first pot of coffee. He thought it odd that the cook didn’t like coffee. But then again, he didn’t like hunting ducks either. “To each his own,” he thought.
Years ago, one cup of coffee was enough for the boys before heading into the woods for the day’s hunt. The old man remembered the year – like it was yesterday – when he remained in camp after the others drove off. He stoked up the remnants of the previous night’s campfire and set the coffee pot right on the glowing embers. His sidekick cocker spaniel roamed the camp looking for scraps from yesterday’s feast. As he sipped his second cup of coffee he smiled and raised it to his younger fellow hunters – bidding them well in the woods that day.
Late that afternoon, the boys trickled into camp. There, they found the old man right where they had left him, by the fire and nursing a beer. On top of his truck’s dog box lay a single woodcock, a ruffed grouse and a very content cocker spaniel. Tales of birds encountered, shots missed, and wonders of bird dogs were all told that night around the campfire. The old man smiled and slowly sipped his whiskey in a tin cup – the same cup that would hold a second cup of coffee the next morning.
Blomberg is the author of two books, UP THE CREEK, and WISCONSIN BIRD HUNTING TALES. Both are available at either amazon.com,barnesandnoble.com or arcadiapublishing.com. Autographed copies are available from the author at [email protected].