In life, we go through phases. We might go from being shy to being outgoing, then get wierded out by people and become more reserved again. We might go from being extremely excited about traveling, then never want to step foot outside of our town, or vice versa. Some people change up their friends then cycle back to their old ones, realizing that they had it pretty good the first time, or passionately love artichokes for half of life and despise them the other. Life phases are not textbook, and although many developmental theorists would disagree with me, I believe they are relative to situations and to individuals. That said, I would add that I have been through a thousand phases, and one of them was my foo-foo coffee phase.
I spent my long hours of daytime at the farm at McIntyre Hollow as a little one, as Grandma was my child care provider. Although she and Pap-Pap did have a TV, the Allegheny Mountain Range made reception close to impossible, so Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street were shows I could only watch at home when my Dad had the day off. Instead, I would sit in the kitchen, observe Grandma in her morning routines, and taste the many good things that were on the table.
The McIntyre Kitchen was never off limits, not even to small children, and whatever Grandma had to eat was fair game for anyone who wanted food. There were always bags of bread, bowls of fruits and vegetables, apple butters, jellies, and other homemade goodies lying around, so I often made myself my own little snack. Uncle Mark, who was just a year older than me, was always the first to get out of bed and join me in the kitchen. Sometimes Grandma made us Cream of Wheat, bacon and eggs, or shredded wheat with hot milk, butter, and salt and pepper. In any case, we sat together in the peacefulness of the morning and talked quietly, experimenting with various ingredients that we could add to our breakfast and chatting about what we were going to do that day.
Although food was plenty, beverages were limited in Grandma’s kitchen as there were usually three choices: water, fresh cow’s milk, or coffee. Neither I nor Uncle Mark liked fresh cow’s milk straight, and we thought water was dull, but coffee from the industrial size coffee maker that stayed full all day and night appealed greatly to our senses of adventure, and was not off limits to small children. It was a necessity, a mainstay, the house drink, and the family beverage. As soon as we were off the bottle (baby bottle), we drank coffee.
When you are a two-year-old just starting out with drinking (coffee), straight, black coffee is a bit extreme, so Uncle Mark and I added various ingredients to our joe to make it more enjoyable. We tried cream, milk, sugar, molasses, maple syrup, jelly, apple butter, and even bacon grease in our java, but the best two-year old coffee I ever drank was a concoction consisting of marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate syrup and milk, and we drank it that way until we had to leave the farm and go away to school at Allegheny Elementary. Sadly, we left our foo-foo coffee phase behind as well.
These days I drink my coffee straight-up black, but once in awhile I’ll get a mocha or a latte with my daughter, who loves a good foo-foo coffee, especially Pumpkin-Spice Latte. It always takes me back to a time when life was simple, safe, and sweet, and I know I’ll serve hot coffee to my grandchildren when they’re toddlers so they can carry on this wonderful family tradition.
Copyright 2018, Christine M. Snow