Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Morning in Time

The weathered farmhouse sat in a field to the West of a lonely, dusty road. In the early morning light, it kept a silent vigil over the still quiet countryside. As the sun slowly took its place in the Kansas sky, life gathered momentum to face another day.

The aging farm dog ventured out of the dog house that rested under the large elm tree by the water pump. He yawned, stretched and gazed expectantly at the dilapidated backdoor of the old two-story frame farmhouse.

The dog was suddenly filled with a burst of youthful energy as the screendoor opened and He came out. The old man, wearing his traditional blue denim overalls, softened and faded with age, tapped his pipe on the pump to loosen the contents. He hit the pipe against the palm of his hand and dumped the smoked tobacco onto the ground. Checking to make sure it was empty, he reached into a pocket, removed a folded red foil package and proceeded to fill the pipe with the deliberation of an artist at work. Upon completion of the task, he replaced the package in his pocket and removed a tosy-tipped wooden match. He lifted his right leg, promptly struck the match against the tightened denim of his pants and brought the flare to his pipe. He drew deeply on the stem of the pipe, tossed the burned stick to the ground and pondered the day that lay ahead.

He reached down, ruffled the hair of the dog and the two of them headed toward the wooden gate which separated the farmhouse from the barnyard.

In the gray light of early morning, She moved with deliberation from room to room, tidying along her way. Leaning across the bleached wooden kitchen countertop, She pulled the kitchen curtain aside and watched the old man and his companion enter the red barn. A smile briefly graced her lips as she silently thanked her God for her man of forty-some years. She let the curtain fall back into place and reached for the worn apron that shared a hook with his razor strap. She vigorously pumped water into the enameled coffee pot, added a generous amount of coffee grounds and crushed dried egg shells and placed it on the relatively new gas stove. It hadn't been all that long since she'd cooked all of the meals and heated her irons on the blackened cast iron stove that now resided behind the lean-to on the North side of the house.

As if by plan, the old man returned to the house with a pail of warm milk just as She took the last of the hotcakes off the griddle. He used the toe of his heavy workshoe to gently scatter a group of frisky kittens out of his way as He carried the milk into the lean-too just off the kitchen. He carefully poured the contents of the pail into the milk separator that had been readied for use the night before.

She placed heavy crockery plates and mismatched flatware at 2 places on the massive circular oak table that dominated the kitchen. As He took his customary place at the table, she sat a steaming mug of coffee in front of him. The dog barked wildly, alerting them to callers just as she sat the platter of hotcakes, sausage and eggs on the table.

She hurried to the backdoor to quiet the dog just as a green Chevy sedan pulled into the gravel driveway. She quickly wiped her hands on the corner of her apron and pushed open the screen door. He joined Her on the step, an expectant smile on each wizened face.

As the car pulled to a stop, the rear doors of the sedan opened and two squealing and laughing young girls jumped out and bounded into the arms of the two on the back step. The driver of the car, a man in his mid-thirties, walked around the front of the car and was welcomed by the elderly couple. The pigtailed girls noisly disappeared into the house and She caught the screen door just before it slammed shut. The three adults followed the girls inside only to find them already seated at the large oak table.

While the two men discussed the spring crops and the effects of the recent rains, the old woman turned her attention to the breakfast and unexpected but welcomed guests. She enlisted the help from the girls in setting three more places at the table while she prepared additional eggs for the men.

Leaving the men to their "man talk" she entertained her granddaughters with questions about school and play.

An invitation to eat went unissued to the guests. Their presence at mealtime was silent acceptance of the implied invitation. When the eggs were ready, the five of them sat together in the rosy blush of sunrise and grasped each other's hands as the elderly man uttered a short German prayer of thanksgiving.

Grace being offered, the family went about the business of breakfast in noisy communion with one another.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Beautiful story. Were you one of the granddaughters?