With frost on my windshield for the second time this season, I headed out. It was a few minutes after 7 a.m. – a bit earlier than normal for this guy, but not for the early, double-caramel person I was meeting. We agreed upon the “Black Dog” for a pre-dawn sip and possible bagel consuming chit-chat. This eatery has been a local favorite for friendly, delicious smooshes … so, my beat-up Honda crunched its way from a wet driveway, over a mile of cold leafy sideroads, to a parking spot three spaces away from this latte-lighthouse.
I’m not one for the fancy drinks. To that end, not even a basic cup of hot coffee warms my soul. Chill it, or steam it … no latte or frappe will ever drape over the sill known as my lower lip. A simple mug of hot chocolate topped with a small dollop of whipped cream (or, perhaps a few small marshmallows) always, and forever, is my huggable winter-season drink of choice.
I’ve known Andy, the owner of the “Black Dog”, a long time. He works hard. Along the path of our friendship however, his hard work would never recognize my finicky taste in hot beverages. It’s not his job to pay attention to my weird ways. After all, a high percentage of his pre-dawn sippage sales IS most likely all the fancy, dancy grande cups and mugs ordered every day – not the marginal hot chocolate orders.
So, when I walked through the doors yesterday morning, a hot chocolate order was out of his norm, but graciously prepared. I sat alone for a few minutes at a table for four … recognizing how wonderful it was to wait for Andy to steam up a warm cup of hot chocolate. Wait for my company to arrive. Wait for the sun to come up through the windows of a very familiar cafe. Just sit, and wait.
After only a few ticks on the clock, two ladies arrived to order breakfast and then Andy’s “front of the house” day began. Although from what I gather, the soups for lunch were already started hours before and happily stewing away on the stove in the back. My company arrived shortly thereafter and we had a charmingly small visit.
During any normal day, I wouldn’t arrive until after 8:00, possibly 9:15, to meet friends for breakfast depending upon the day’s schedule. This was rare. The “Black Dog” is a common stop for lunches and late breakfasts in daily drive-abouts if I am floating around. Andy and his staff are wonderfully packed full of energy and engaged in everyone’s life which is why I try to get there when I can.
Yes, my friends are there, too. This is important. There’s a round table – not as significant as King Arthur’s – but one where compression of souls happens on a regular basis. Short folks, tall frames, skinny sorts, and sometimes well-suited suitors sit comfortably at this table enjoying the day’s news and, of course, one of five selected lunch choices. Andy prepares five diverse lunch choices, a variety of soups, and dessert items. Each day is different, … but only five per day. Simple. Most patrons, if not all over the years, prefer it this way. No surprises. Always delicious. Always fun and affordable, too.
It’s just a local cafe if you look at the “Black Dog” as a building. As a place to wait for a few minutes and think about what life is … it’s more than half-fogged up windows resting above a leaf-blown sidewalk. It’s about those very windows waiting for the sun to rise.
I walked through the doors thinking about those windows. The time was too early for me. I knew there was hot chocolate waiting inside, however. The few minutes once inside – waiting for Andy to brew up the mug’s warm interior liquidy goodness – gave me pause to consider the hour ahead. A sun would rise to evaporate the moisture off those windows. Pretty basic stuff. A day would start for so many, including me.
With all that’s been going on with my life, I forgot that days do have a beginning. The sun comes up. Good, predictable things happen every day. Waiting for them to happen – being patient – was a nice reminder yesterday.
If it’s good enough for the windows at the “Black Dog”, I can be patient, too.