Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The Old House Still Stood
smothered in the fog of a cold winter morning. It was vacant and stood in my memories as long as the mountains around it.
Approaching carefully, knowing this ramshackle old house was empty, I stepped up and through the open door.
The kitchen lean-to was filled with old kitchen things and an antique wood cook stove…I smelled coffee.
Embarrassed by my trespassing, I turned to leave when a voice, as ancient and rusty as the stove, spoke from the other room.
“Sit a spell”, the voice said, “Pull up a chair” as he pointed to an old hickory cane bottomed chair.
Handing me a tin cup, full of hot coffee, he spoke again, “Black’s all I got, but you’re welcome to a cup.”
I sat, I sipped, as the coffee made my taste buds dance, I waited for him to speak again.
The rocking chair creaked as he rocked, slowly. I waited for him to speak, to shout about my intrusion, to say something to absolve me of my guilt.
“The weather’s turning”, he mentioned casually as if I were a long time friend. “How’s the coffee?” he enquired. “I like a touch of chicory, takes me back to a time when we didn’t have coffee.”
Speechless, I nodded in agreement as he rocked and rocked, always keeping his cup balanced, never losing his rhythm.
Comfortable enough to face him, Irish Blue eyes looked straight through me, filled with nothing but kindness and welcoming. The craggy, yet boyish, face was surrounded by blonde hair turned older. The face sported a full, thick beard as elegant as Santa’s.
Age was not a question, nor did it seem to matter. Speaking again in that ancient voice, he asked, “Need me to warm your cup, Ma’am?”
I offered my cup for topping off as he spoke again. “I was born here, in that very room. Nineteen seventeen was a long time ago.”
My voice was not needed, only my presence.
Bit by bit, he talked as if there was nothing but time. I listened, I learned and was mesmerized by his gentle voice telling of his youth and his experiences through the years. I could only listen.
The rain began to fall, pinging on the tin roof. I sat, he rocked.
Somehow, I dozed, waking with a start, I looked around for the gentleman I had visited with for hours.
Gone, except for the coffee cup, I called out his name. No answer.
The rocking chair was dusty, the wood stove was cold and the open door remained open.
I think of this often as my walk takes me by the cabin. I smell no coffee and the house remains the same.
I check, time to time, for him, but he’s never there. I only have that afternoon, in the rain, and the coffee cup as I continue to search for Chicory growing wild.