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"Should anyone in a distant future read the silly account I have taken of my life after I am gone, I would have them know that I have had one consistent vice. This vice was poured down to me through generations of people, of giants, of great women, who grew their own food and woke at this time of morning long before dawn to begin their day's work by lamplight. They would boil the water in the dark, usually in a building separate from the one their children slept in, leaning over smoke and flame in the few minutes they would have had to themselves. Four women in three different islands would have begun their day with hot water poured over ground coffee beans.
One would have grown hers herself, all would have ground the beans in the days before. At least one would add a pinch of salt, three would add milk, and all would heap in sugar the way everyone in these sugar islands would have done back then. (I choose this morning and most mornings a spoon of the grainy part of the honey that collects at the bottom of the jar in honour of their love for sweetness). At some point, all four of these women would have been alive at the same time, lived parallel lives through at least one world war, listened to the same radio broadcasts, and woken up at the same pre-dawn moment to bring the water to a boil. I imagine them raising that first cup at the same time, mindless of the waters flowing between them coming every day closer together. They would never meet, these four women, in spite of their extensive travels uncharacteristic of women of their time. But they would come to meet in me, in my body, in my remembering. Julia the Maroon Mother, Birdie the St. Bess Beauty, Hazel the Utilian Queen, and Chrissy the Caymanian Cornerstone would come alive in me, Annikki, here in 2021.
Sometimes I think of my Great-Grandmothers and what they, now free from the social traps set for women in their own times, must think of me. Are they proud of what they have become? I knew only two of them in body and only briefly, but I know deeply that they were great. Four women saw their way through childbirth and loss, austerity and war, the adulthood of their own children and a ripe old age. They died fit rather than fat, tired rather than bored, and proud rather than regretful.
And so, I boil my water at 4:30 this morning, pick up a pen and think of them. I hope you think of your own great mothers as we sip together from the Cup of Queens. May our choices honour their greatness as we go about our day and live through these, our very own interesting times."
We also find it small world-ish that her fiancé is a half Geordie (good choice!).