I love many things- shiny silver bracelets, the color purple, gerber daisies, my family, the sound of children laughing, my fireplace on a cold night, my central air on a humid day…the list could go on endlessly, as I try to find the good and the beautiful in most everything and most every day. Coffee and Wine are also on my list and I was thinking this morning about why?…and I realize that they both give me a similar peaceful feeling. Although some people are jolted by the caffeine in coffee, I am not, and have at times been known to drink it all day long and into the night and still sleep soundly. Some people are lulled into dullness with the alcohol content of wine, but I am not, and find that most my senses are stimulated by it.
I love to read reviews about coffee and wine when I am trying new beans or new grapes and it’s curious to me that the ratings almost always use the word “Balance” in the descriptions. Is that what we crave? Is that what we are seeking? Perhaps, since I see the word used so frequently, I am not alone in my quest for balance in my life, and to be clear, if my beverage is well balanced first thing in the morning and shortly before dinner, well, hey, it’s a start!
Many winters ago, my boyfriend at the time and I began an experiment in roasting our own coffee beans. We were positively giddy with the UPS delivery of green beans, in small quantities, from many parts of the world. We used a regular old cast iron skillet and a wooden wok tool, no special gadgets, and the intense flame from an old gas range, and we learned a lot about beans…how they “pop” during the first phase, and double in size, and how they sizzle and become glossy during the second phase, and how long to turn them, how long to air them, the ratio of water to beans after we ground them…we learned that some beans require not only the wall fan but the front door and all the windows opened so as not to be smoked out of the house, we learned that some, despite their delicious flavor when brewed, actually smell like dirty feet. We had a small notebook where we’d jot down details: the type of bean, where it’s from, how long we roasted, how much we put in the pan, etc., and even though he was a scientist and had a love of data, and I like to write and had a love of being overly verbose, we never could duplicate a roast, regardless of the number of details we noted, ever!
That same winter, with not enough work to stay busy and therefore a lot of down-time, we also started an experiment in rating wine. I tried, and failed miserably I might add, to remove the labels from each bottle and glue them into a notebook where we then described OUR take on the bottle, and tried very hard not to read the back of the bottle first…could we detect the kind of grape, the region, how was the texture, how deep was the color, was it too sweet or too dry, how did it adhere to the side of the glass, how did it smell, did I like the design of the label, did the aroma fill the room or just our noses as we took the first sip, notes of berry, notes of dirt, notes of chocolate, notes-notes-notes…it’s fun, in a dorky way I suppose, because you really have to dig deep in your brain, or search your thesaurus, for adjectives.
What I learned most that winter was that one, I was surprisingly happy without having television, two, life can be quite good with only music in the house and not background noise of woeful or depressing news & ridiculous commercials, and three, a great cup of coffee and a great bottle of wine have a shared characteristic that matters to me, BALANCE. In my life now, much changed, VERY much changed from that winter so many years ago, I find myself seeking balance every day in every way, in myself and how I try to make my way in the world…not letting myself get too angry or too upset, or too worried or too fearful, or perhaps “too” anything. If I am rude or unkind I try to fix it with apology and affection. If I lash out or say something I regret, I try to fix it with calming grace. I really continue to strive, I guess almost daily, to become a better version of me and I joke, but it is in truth, that I am a work in progress, and I was thinking this morning, as I took my first sip of coffee, that happened to be a VERY good cup of coffee, that it was perfectly balanced, and so today, I shall try to be the same…