Saturday morning

My husband has been rushing around making coffee and toasting bagels in preparation for a 9 AM meeting–at our house.  Who schedules meetings at nine o’clock on a Saturday morning?  Madness.

Saturday mornings used to be for kicking back in your bathrobe with endless cups of coffee, the morning paper scattered across the table, sausage cooking on the stove, bagels or toast in the oven, mouthwatering slices of cantaloupe or honeydew melon glistening on white plates…but that was a long time ago.  For the last 20 years of my working life, I left for work at 6:15 every other Saturday morning, which kind of took the leisure out of leisurely weekend.

And now, every morning is Saturday morning! Minus the sausage and endless cups of coffee. I only eat sausage when my granddaughter is here. It’s her very favorite breakfast food, and who am I to deny her?  I no longer drink the endless cups of coffee, either, just one, delicious cafe latte, made with our espresso pot and the top-of-the-stove milk steamer I first purchased at Cost Plus, a warehouse-type import store, at least 35 years ago.  It’s gotten harder and harder to find replacements now that those fancy little espresso machines that cost a couple of hundred dollars (and don’t even work as well as what we have) are on the market.

We used to go to Yosemite Valley every summer with a bunch of other families–30 or 40 people altogether–and stay in tent cabins down by the Merced River (no, not the ones where they’ve found Hante virus, though it’s probably there–the mice certainly are). In the morning, people would hear us steaming milk on our cook stove and trail in one by one, coffee cup in hand. We’d churn out the lattes, then a bunch of us would sit around under the tall pines, sun filtering through the branches, the rock face of a valley wall looming behind them, children chasing each other through the camp, and talk and talk, sipping away until it was gone.

Photo: Jim Kellett, AP

At night we’d sit around campfires talking or singing.  Sometimes there were cutthroat domino games at the picnic table, people slamming down tiles and laughing raucously, light from lanterns flickering on their faces.  Lots of drinking, of course.  I remember being kept awake one night by a long and mournful conversation between two men, both of them at the sorrowful drunk stage and bemoaning their lost loves, when there was a tremendous crashing and banging from very nearby and someone shouted, “Bear!”  The guy in the next tent cabin hadn’t closed his bear locker properly, and a large black bear had spotted his mistake, opened the locker, pulled out the ice chest, and was spreading its contents on the ground.

Everybody got out pots and pans and began beating them together making a horrible racket, whistling and shouting, flashlight beams going every whichway, but Yosemite bears are not easily intimidated.  The bear took his time, finally found what he wanted, and ambled away.  “What’d he take?” I asked the next morning.  The guy, who was kind of a proletarian type, looked sheepish. “The Roquefort cheese,” he answered.

Good times.

Photo: US Forest Service


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