The January thaw is over. This morning it had warmed up to 8 degrees when I got my wits about me enough to check. Before our morning routine that includes belly rubs for the dog, coffee for the people and reading aloud this blog for the family, the morning is not really started. As we have moved from house to house from hotel to hotel and from family are constant and true.
The morning routines of individuals are engrained even when we don’t think of it. As I think back across our own lives I can trace a sort of a family story by what happens between awakening and the beginning of the vocational day. When we first met in 1974, long before we were married or even dating, my spouse either stayed over at our family home sleeping on the couch or he came early and joined us in the beginning of our day. He was attending University in our town and was without a larger family. Our family had reduced suddenly from five to three due to empty nest and a divorce. After working for my mom at her business then joining us for supper some days, it was a slightly atypical but logical progression that he would appear at the breakfast table.
In my household those days we each had what was called a sheet blanket, not dissimilar to our current thicker flannel sheets. The house was cold so when we went to bed we slipped between the sheets but used the sheet blanket to make sort of a sleeping bag liner. In the morning when we got up to go to the potty, we usually stayed wrapped in our sheet blankets sine the house was so cold. As was typical in those days, the bath was at the beginning of a long hall from which each room branched. My spouse, who had become the pesky big-brother for the household, used to slip up (noisily so we knew he was coming) behind us to try to step on the trailing edge of the blanket so if would fall off. While not the most endearing game I have ever played, it was a game and as good fun as can be had on a cold, sleepy morning.
Once I began college things changed some. Because I did not drive, I started riding my bike the hilly 9 miles each way. When winter came, I was so cold riding that I had to take a mid-trip break. My spouse, then boyfriend’s house happened to be about half way. I would drop by, get the coffee going, bake from-scratch biscuits in a toaster oven, fry his bacon and then cook his eggs in the bacon grease. Of course, all this cooking required me to get up at 4:30 am but love does that to you. If I was running behind schedule, sometimes he took me, and my bike, the remaining 4 miles to school.
The next morning routine was the first in our own house. I have written about how we discovered it was not a good thing to wake up at the same time. In that house I slept in until he finished is morning ablutions and I could then get into the bathroom. The whole biscuits and bacon thing went out the window which was just fine by me.
About a a year later we moved to Pocatello, ID for me to go to University. I don’t remember our morning routine. Maybe it got lost. Our 9 months in Pocatello were not good months for us physically or emotionally. In 1977 we moved from Pocatello to the town where we live now. Breakfast was more settled. Most mornings we had cereal and went on with the day. .One morning a week we had breakfast in bed and then talked for a while before getting up.
After that, for several years, our breakfast routine changed considerably. We ran group homes for youth in social services custody. We never knew who was going to be at the breakfast table since social workers and courts dictated the youth’s schedules.
When our stent as house parents was over, we moved to the mountains and became professional mountain people. We sold hiking gear worked as river guides, ran the canoe livery and worked in the winter at professional ski patrol. Mornings were hallmarked by shifts and by season. In the summer my spouse had a 45 minute drive beyond the town where I worked which was 30 minutes from our house. Breakfast was a cup of Haree’s coffee and a meatless biscuit. They had to make them up special for us since plain biscuits were not on the menu but they were a lot cheaper.
When we moved to Wyoming breakfast was more organized. I was given a mug of coffee while I was in the shower. Cereal and a drive to campus followed—on two mornings of the week. The other mornings we struggled out into the cold to attend morning prayer at our church which started promptly at 7 am. Morning service was followed by holding court in the back booth at Hardees (a different one) for an hour before people headed off to their day. We solved all of the world’s problems at that table.
During my faculty teaching years the routine was pretty similar. My first job was I Upstate New York and from there we went to Alaska and back east to a research position at the Veterans Affairs in New Hampshire. All of those years were fixed into a similar routine. Spouse up first, coffee mug delivered to the shower for me, cereal, then off for the day.
From 1999 until 2013 we lived in Pocatello, ID. The first 11 of those years varied due to travel schedules. The most common form was the mug of coffee delivered to me in the shower followed by cereal. In 2010 my spouse tore up his leg up and could not get down stairs easily. We started the breakfast in bed thing. After the fire we continued that tradition for most of a year. Those years included belly rubs and starting after the fire, the blog post from the previous day being read aloud. Even Sophie the dog seems to be listening.
In this new place in Montana, breakfast is at the table again but belly, coffee and story are still part of the “before we get out of bed” routine. My spouse is but rejoins us with my coffee when I wake up.
As we contemplate this next move, into our little 400 sq ft basement apartment in our own not-yet completed house, I wonder how breakfast will evolve. Our table is tiny and is like a motor home table that pops up from the wall. When we move upstairs to the completed house, we will have a tiny space for a table in the kitchen that I suspect will become the place for coffee, story and cereal. Belly for the dog will still predate arising.
I have learned that wherever we go our morning to breakfast routine is defined by our place and our work. It is also defined by us. I think we will have breakfast indoors when it is January. We can eat at our little kitchen table. As the weather warms we will likely have our cereal sojourn on one of the decks. We will learn our new place in the world through the evolution of our breakfast patterns.