Today, the weather is chillier and somewhat damp - a novelty after the months of hot, sunny, Andalucian Spanish summer.
Today, I wanted my coffee hot - not long, cool, iced and in a glass. (I never thought I'd drink coffee in a glass - having watched, with an element of near-disgust, my husband indulging in this act for many years - but here, it seems right.) But not today.
Today, I reached to the back of the cupboard to where I had stored one of my treasured possessions - out of reach of other hands - to withdraw the most perfect receptacle for a steamy, frothed mug of freshly-brewed coffee. A gift from a very dear, very funny, very possibly unique person who had the knack - nay, the talent - for buying the perfect present. And she bought lots of presents for lots of people. She loves to shop and has a wonderful eye for a bargain - and when we worked together, we would often compare purchases as I too knew the places to go to find special things at special prices. But I admit I wasn't in Susan's league because I don't think she ever really switched out of that 'ooh, so-and-so would love that' and inevitably, so-and-so really did love it when they received it on their birthday or at Christmas.
And one year, I opened a Christmas present from Susan and was immediately enchanted by a gorgeous square box - whose pattern was reflected in the mug contained inside - redolent of chocolate, coffee and cooking, my passions. And the mug was a wonderful weight - not too heavy but not a silly flimsy thing - and my Christmas was perfect. For the following three years or so, this mug was used every single day at work where I followed my one true ritual - I'm not usually a creature of habit - that of my morning coffee. I had a cafetiere into which I put a good heaping of quality coffee (and occasionally, my disorganisation showing through, I had to beg, borrow or steal some if I'd inadvertently allowed myself to run out of my own...) and as that steeped, I'd heat my milk. At first, I had a hand-frother, that required a bit of manual pumping to get a good froth but Hayley, a long-term work colleague and friend, who worked in the next office turned up one day with a little battery-operated machine that frothed silently and quickly - such altruism! And then the wonderful combination of the two steaming liquids - milk first, coffee through the middle - and a little sprinkling of chocolate on the top.
(And as I say that I'm not one for habitual practices, I remember another period in my working life, after I'd found a beautiful china cup and saucer in an antiques shop - pure white, with a fine gold rim and a perfect shape - and I only drank peppermint tea from it and it was my cup and no one else would have touched it. Perhaps I should check myself for other signs of obsession...However, the cup got chipped and hence discarded and since then, I only occasionally drink peppermint tea and hardly ever use a cup and saucer.)
Before I left my job, I moved offices; actually, as part of a big
Today is the day it came back into its own. And just in time. The damp, cool weather of the morning has dissipated as I have been writing and the sun is now shining as strongly as ever, just reaching my shoulder and urging me to change out of the trousers and jumper I put on first thing. But I have had the perfect start to my day - a delicious coffee in the perfect mug and a plethora of lovely memories.
Thank you Susan; thank you Hayley; sorry Zah!