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Sipping from a saucer

It's a chilly, windy day. And it's been gray out for several days. Today, though, the sun is shining. Many around me are suffering from colds and the flu, Type A mostly.

I think everyone needs a cup of something warm, an orange-lemon-tea drink I call Russian Tea is a favorite around here when we are ailing, or hoping to prevent it.

Grab a cup of something warm to sip, gather under your favorite covers, and rest with a good read. Enjoy this excerpt of an essay from "Gathering: Homespun Essays from Beech Tree Lane." It's about a tall grandpa, his ambitious life, and his sipping from a saucer.

My granddaddy Jim often drank his sweet, milky coffee from the saucer that his cup sat in. And that’s the way I learned to drink my coffee. Not from a mug, but from sipping from a saucer.

The art of drinking scalding coffee from a saucer is gone, I fear, but I’m glad I was among the chosen to see it performed so eloquently. Jim, with the nickname of “Sapbird” and its shorter version, “Sap,” as I remember him, is not the same in anyone else’s memory. This is my memory. Maybe he’s more of a dream ... His blue eyes oozed mischievousness and a ready chuckle perched at the corners of his mouth. His overall pocket in the prehistory days and his shirt pocket in his more modern ones carried Juicy Fruit gum.

Worming out of him a piece of that yellow fun-ness was one of my favorite pastimes in the 1960s. I can still see me, cropped shoulder length brown hair with bangs at my brows, blackened bare feet, shorts and buttoned shirt standing in front of him as he sat in a rocking chair on the porch. I am reaching for the prize in the pocket. He is catching and dropping my hands, both of us are laughing.

Occasionally, he pokes a finger in my side and throws me off my game. This sap of a man was fun, and determined. This same man took needle and thread and stitched his own flesh when a tear required it. There was once a photo of him left in a box somewhere in London, last seen by me in the 1970s, a gift to a visiting relative, that showed him barefoot, pants rolled up to his ankles ...

He was a trapper, raised from a long line of hunter gatherers. He set traps to capture fish, birds, and such and he and those brave or hungry enough to try his fare ate from his bounty. Trapping is a time saver in a world where a farmer has to multi-task. Granddaddy could not often afford the luxury of sitting on a river bank, taking the time to catch one fish at a time. He strung nets and dropped cages and let bait and time take care of catching his family’s food ...


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