A Country Morning
by Shari Hayman Wilson

 

The morning dawned on a fog-shrouded field in the Ohio Valley. The troughs of newly plowed brown earth glistened with drops of the early morning dew. A rabbit, startled by the sound of a human voice, darted across the field and into the depths of the surrounding forest. The voice was a soft one, singing the words of a well known hymn. It seemed to be coming from the open window of a farmhouse at the side of the field. Outside the house a cardinal paused for a moment and cocked its head to one side as if listening to the tune.

From the large picture window in the dining room kitchen, an aging woman stood watching the activities of the cardinal and hare. Her hair was dark brown, streaked with gray, and her eyes spoke the wisdom of many years of experience. From her lips came the words of the age old hymn that had attracted the attention of the pretty red bird. She smiled as she saw him look inquiringly toward the house before taking off in flight. With his departure, the woman turned back to the work she had been doing.

In front of the picture window was a long table of ornately carved oak. Thirteen blue china plates with their setting were placed on the table ready for use. From the kitchen part of the dining room came the sizzling sound of frying food. The smell of fresh eggs, spicy sausage, lean bacon, and hot buttered toast mingled with the smell of brewing coffee to create a tantalizing odor. The woman stood at the stove checking the contents of each pan. She flipped each egg and added a dash of salt and pepper to the sunny yellow of their yolks.

In the comer of the room next to the table crouched an old man holding his gnarled hands out to the warmth of a pot-bellied stove. The draft from the open window seemed to chill his old bones, but the crisp spring air brought a promise of life to his weary spirit. He drew open the heavy black iron door of the stove and with a poker stoked the glowing embers. Then he reached for a blackened pail of coal and dumped part of it into the belly of the stove, poking it so that the embers would not be extinguished. The glow of the fire reflected in his eyes, giving him an illusion of youth and vitality.

The woman stood by the cooking stove staring hopefully into the old man's eyes. When he smiled at her she turned back to the stove and began dishing the contents of each pan onto huge wooden serving plates. She then carried each plate to the oak table and set it down. As she carried the last dish to the table, a young child bounded into the room. She ran up to the woman, and taking the plate from her hands exclaimed, "Grandma, let me take that for you!" The woman looked at the child with an expression of pride and love in her eyes; this was one of her grandchildren to whom she had devoted a part of her life. She watched as the child put the plate on the table and then skipped over toward the old man. When she reached him she flung her arms around his neck and said a simple, "Good morning Grandpa." As the child turned back to her grandmother and asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you Grandma?" the woman knew that the child had already done more than enough.