Instant in a Mug with Cows

photo by adas-mikuckis
photo by tadas-mikuckis

‘You better make sure you vote’, Jayne said, and I thought, hmmf. What’s all the fuss about, we’re just going through the motions, we won’t leave, what will be the good of that?! Anyway, I arranged to vote by proxy while I was away and left for France. I spent ten days or so there, hanging out with friends…most of them German or French. I then headed for Spain. I was going to work on a building project with a group of women. The group was made up of women from UK, Holland, Sweden. We would spend the next weeks together up a mountain in pretty fundamental conditions. We would work together and look out for each other.

We took turns to make breakfast every morning. One of the Dutch women showed me how to make coffee. Surely I knew how to make coffee?! Perhaps not? I gave up the burden of thinking I have to know everything…moved close…listened. That old UK style…instant in a chipped mug with cows milk was history. We made coffee in 3 stainless steel percolators. We packed the fine, dark, aromatic powder into the perforated cup, filled the little wells with spring water and screwed on the body. It was careful and delicate work…a daily ritual…something of grace in it. We placed the pot on the stove and waited while it bubbled and gurgled. Then we heated cold, creamy soya milk in a pan and when it was warm through whisked it hard until the pan was filled with delight, a white, bright, air-filled foam. We carried the pots and the pan carefully down the hill, down the path made from red earth and loose stones.

The Dutch woman poured the black coffee into a deep wide glass and when she added the milk something beautiful and fascinating happened, things came together, the whiteness and the darkness, the milk sank down and the coffee let it, let itself be transformed, let itself be turned slowly and rhythmically into something lighter,and the milk gave up its whiteness,let go of going solo, of being separate, and the fusion was exquisite, clouds of white billowing into the darkness, a movement of colour and form, swirling, entwining, combining, and what was separate became joined, and what was either/or became something new,something both dark and light and creamy and powerful. Then the woman spooned froth onto the surface of the coffee and the milkand it sat like a lace crown, delicate, vulnerable, and the whole thing was like a celebration of something that had been made, together, carefully, with the kind of attention that is the foundation of love,and (given the primitiveness of the environment) made with hope. It tasted so good.

While we were drinking the coffee, another Dutch women asked me why ‘we’ (the British) wanted to leave. I felt intensely sad and I just couldn’t think of one reason why we might want to do that…

to leave…

to separate…again…

to go it alone…

to keep on pretending we’re an island…

and that we don’t need each other…

Colette Power Spain, July 2016


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