As soon as she pulled in the driveway, my mom would make a pot of coffee and put out whatever sweet treats she had on hand. Cookies, cake, a day-old doughnut, it didn’t matter; Grandma had a sweet tooth and could always be counted on to walk in the house looking for dessert, while carrying a bag of candy bars she had picked up on the way to visit us.
My siblings and I would dig through and pick out our favorite candy bar (mine was the Mr. Goodbar) and Grandma Carson would sit down at the table at “her” spot where a cup of fresh coffee was waiting. It wasn’t a mug of coffee, but a cup and saucer of coffee with a spoon on the side.
Mom would put the cream and sugar out and Grandma would grab the sugar bowl and carefully scoop up two big spoonfuls and pour them into her coffee. Chatting for a few minutes, the highly-educated, frumpy-looking, absent-minded woman would then carefully add two more heaping spoonfuls of sugar into her coffee and stir and stir, and stir some more.
By this time, she had stirred so much that the coffee was now spilling out of the cup and onto the saucer. When it was time for her first sip, she would look down and say, “Well, it’s probably cooled off enough now,” and take a drink.
Then she would realize she had spilled her coffee and take the cup off the saucer, pour the spilled coffee from the saucer back into the cup and say – as my mom was getting a paper towel – “Ginger, would you mind getting me a paper towel?”
Folding the paper towel into quarters, my mom would reach over, Grandma would lift up her cup, Mom would carefully place the paper towel squarely on the saucer, Grandma would put the cup back down and this would soak up any future spills. She was then set to enjoy the cookies, cake or day-old doughnuts and coffee set before her.
Every time she came over, I would sit and watch this whole process, just waiting for her to taste that coffee that had been doused with four heaping tablespoons of sugar. I couldn’t wait to see her reaction to the sweetness. But I was always disappointed because it never came; she would down that coffee and wait for a refill without ever noticing the syrupy sweetness in her cup of joe.
With the popularity of mugs today, cups and saucers seem to be a thing of the past. Mugs can be just as simple and pretty as cups and saucers, or they can make identifying statements about our lives. While I don’t have a cupboard full of matching cups and saucers, I do have one.
And each morning, when I pull out my marigold-colored Fiesta ware cup and saucer, I rarely poor a cup of hot coffee without thinking of my Grandma Carson, her folded paper towel on top of the saucer and under the cup of sugar she enjoyed with her coffee.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Those with questions or comments for Melissa Hart may write to her in care of this publication.