Coffee and Cigarettes
When Fahrenheit and Celsius agree to meet and shake frostbitten hands at 40-below, baby, it’s cold outside. Late last week the city, squinting and a little stiff, emerged from a voluntary extreme cold lockdown. Saturday was a particularly fine and mild day. Sunday was even better as thermometers had jumped 47 degrees since the onset of the polar pandemic.
Yesterday, Sunday, I took my morning mug of coffee outside and sat down on my half of the Crooked 9’s front porch tête-à-tête for the first time this year. I lit the day’s first cigarette. There were no human sounds on the street. There were no distant human sounds, engines, sirens nor car alarms. I listened to the birdsong, mostly sparrows and chickadees. I heard a woodpecker tock-tock-talking to the bark in a birch, fir or willow somewhere close by. My cigarette smoke burned psychedelic grey, my lung-filtered version bluer; my black coffee in its black mug steamed as it cooled, slack ropes of ghostly vapour.
Favourite coffee mugs are sentimental pieces of crockery. They make the contents taste better. The Rolling Stones’ lolling tongue logo first appeared in 1971 with their eponymous record label launch. Their first release was the ‘Brown Sugar’ maxi-single with two tracks on the B side (‘Bitch’ and a live version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Let It Rock’). That’s 50 years of branding to date. John Pasche’s original design has since been tinkered with, tampered with, and tattooed through the decades. My mug is musical, 16 variations of that tongue. Say “aah” and I’ll tell you the album or the tour.
My good mood had been preset on Saturday afternoon. I’d swept the winter grit out of the garage and then I’d tried to scrub the salt stains from its cracked and pitted concrete floor. Chore done, I played Into the Music, Van Morrison’s last essential album, his masterpiece from 1979. I believe its title is a subtle affirmation of ‘Into the Mystic’ from Moondance, Caledonia soul. And I spun that record with enough volume to flood the property with poetry, doors and windows open. Turn it up! “Can you hear that sound? It’s the troubadour coming to town.” Hark! The cranky Irish mystic heralds the coming of spring!
My sixty-second winter has weighed particularly heavily, but this is the oppressive nature of an invisible pathogen in low light. It’s all too soon for a harsh season to pass, but my weekend soundings in the dead of this diseased winter all seem promising. There’s nothing quite like a decent cup of coffee and a cigarette or two enjoyed on a fine morning.
meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative source of new age mysticism since 2013. My novella Of Course You Did is coming in 2021. Sign up for e-mail alerts from the Crooked 9, use that thingy on the right.