Ordinary Objects 3


In the evening, before I turn off the kitchen lights, before I lock the front door, and send the dogs out for the last time (hopefully), before the kids make the deep, quiet breaths of fathomless sleep, I stand at the kitchen sink, thinking about tomorrow.

I rinse out the coffee grounds and wash out the French Press.

We used to make coffee this way, when we first married, but I couldn’t stay faithful. I played the field when babies arrived; get the coffee into our faces fast and easy in the mornings. That was the whole point of coffee. So I dabbled. I looked elsewhere for my coffee fixings. We bought countless drip pots that lived short and furious lives. Finally, Mr. Kuerig wooed me with his sweet, sweet promises.

Fast coffee, or tea or hot chocolate, enough flavors that pleased everyone, or nearly so. But Mr. Kuerig, cheap and easy fix that he was, has been on the fritz lately, and I’m impatient for a very good cup of coffee, in the morning, in my house. So I returned to my first love, the French Press. And I bought a green one, because it reminded me of a friend.

When the press is clean, I open the sunny yellow and blue canister that holds my strong as chest hair Italian roast. I count, one-two-three-four scoops of ground beans into the glass cylinder. My mother gave us a set of three canisters as a wedding gift. My hands touch the past when I pull the little jar toward me, and I remember.

The blue and white tea kettle was a gift from my mother-in-law; a just-because gift because she loved me. I empty the kettle, and fill it with fresh water, placing it in the center of the back left burner, the French Press beside it. Ready for morning.

In the morning, walking into a clean kitchen is a small gift I give myself nearly every day. The sink is empty and the dishwasher clean, the counters are free of crumbs and fingerprints no longer dance across the table and the fridge. One certain thing. One tidy spot. I turn on the burner and stand again at the kitchen sink.

The kettle never really got the hang of a true kettle whistle, so when I hear it beginning to burble and sputter, I pour the water over the beans and breathe. The smell and the steam rise, it’s a small gesture, just for me. One quiet moment, pregnant with memories and, really if we want to be contemporary about it, self-care.

I have been finding a kind of contented peace in my kitchen lately, and I find that I don’t mind the washing up or the emptying or the wiping and cooking and caretaking. I find the rhythms and the order settling, the way I appreciate a well-made bed, with clean and tight sheets. I have been reveling in the small gesture of a well-brewed, on purpose and with intent cup of coffee, or a well-written article, a carefully turned bowl or the smooth plane of a table.

This coffee pot, this kettle, this canister, these ordinary objects are not merely functional. They connect me to the past, to people, to memories and to the pure sensation of satisfaction.