Saturday, February 22, 2014

Morning coffee

DSC03646 (1300x963)The beaches from Sandbanks to Bournemouth are dotted with small cafes, each serving regional coffee and artesian breads. And as the sun finally begins to rise before I do (a sure and hopeful sign of spring), I’m venturing out to enjoy the pearly light and soothing sounds of the ocean, seeking peace in dark brew and light scones.

Or, I’d like to.  No beachside café actually opens before ten, nor closes after five, along the Jurassic Coast.  DSC03648 (1300x906)Even in tourist season?  “Nobody on holiday gets up before ten,” the waiters assure me.

So I brew some coffee in my room and take it down along the beach for a reflective sip and a think, organizing notes, reading papers, writing emails,walking the sand, calling the Dutch (an hour ahead and early risers, even on holiday). 

DSC03644 (1300x970)And the beach slowly fills, joggers running laps alongside the dog walkers, puffing faces watched by panting ones.  I have started taking my coffee without milk, strong and raw, it fits the morning best, steaming against the wind and acid against the throat.  Between calls and notes, there’s time to think about questions arising from 5 am reading (yes, I’m back to early waking).

The Times had a particularly good one: To Read or Not To Read?

A mother, in passing suddenly, leaves behind DSC03651 (1300x952)a box of her diaries. Her daughter is struggling with whether to read them, uninvited.

It’s a ticklish question, and the author is ultimately unsatisfying in her resolution: she reads parts that lie outside of her own lifespan, beautifully crafted descriptions of others, and observes only that ‘I see myself’ in the writings sampled.

Sidestepped is the question of whether her mother would regard the reading as a violation, of what the daughter would do with uncomfortable discoveries.  Are the writings a legacy to preserve, or a secret to be DSC03647 (1300x975)buried?

I think that personal diaries should only be shared deliberately, and with time for conversation about their contents.  It has to be offered while the writer is still alive.  Otherwise, they should be left unread: too often people write their immediate feelings and furthest dreams, neither representative of who they really are.  There needs to be context, of knowing why a passage was written, and where it led.

DSC03645 (1300x1171)And, late morning, the café’s finally open, coffee, scones, pretending the world is just waking. The locals drift in for breakfast and conversation in two’s (husband and wife) and three’s (friends and neighbors), heads together in quiet earnest discussions.

A cue actually, to gather up and to be on with the day.  I’ll look forward to someday joining the breakfast-at-11 community.  But now and for me, well, my list is long…

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