At 6:30 in the morning on a Friday, not many businesses are open on the square of this small town. One is the new coffeeshop, which is a charming little place with a high ceiling, noisy blenders, and colored whipped cream. The other is The Bakery, known to locals just by that name. Most of the cars parked around the square at this hour are in front of The Bakery.
We walk in, Joshua and I, for our semi-regular Friday morning coffee and doughnuts. We do this every now and then, most often on payday. For less than five dollars, you can buy two fresh doughnuts and two cups of coffee. You have your choice of two or three varieties of coffee, black or with either plain or french vanilla creamer. And one free refill per cup you pay for.
My all-time favorite doughnut (and I've tried most of them) is the pecan roll. It's a sweet dough, made into what are basically cinnamon rolls, but instead of frosting on top it's covered with toasted, candied pecans. So you bite in, and get the soft, sweet, cinnamony, melt-in-your-mouth roll and then the crunchy, mouthwateringly delicious pecans. I'm salivating again at the thought.
Another great thing about The Bakery is the clientele. It's been in business for decades and a lot of people have lived around here their whole lives. Everyone seems to know everyone else. In twenty minutes we see a pretty solid cross-section of the county: farmers, old retired guys in bib overalls, a teacher, couples and singles on their way to work, a Mennonite couple. The lady behind the counter, who works most of the time now that the owner is getting older, knows pretty much everybody. Not everyone who comes in is a regular, but most of them are.
We sit at our favorite table, by the front window and next to the door. There are a couple longer rectangular ones, one bigger round one with four chairs, and two little round ones with two chairs. We sit at one of those after helping ourselves to coffee. At one of the long tables five or six men, most of them in their fifties or sixties, are sitting and drinking coffee. One of the coffee dispensers is right on their table. The baker bring out pots of fresh coffee to refill all the dispensers. One push of the lever on top and your cup is full.
Joshua glances at the clock above the bakery case. Six thirty-five, time for him to start walking to work. I get up to give him a hug and a kiss goodbye, and then watch him jaywalk across the quiet street and stroll in the direction of school. He's got eight long hours of cleaning and moving furniture ahead of him today. I'll meet him for lunch at Subway, since I'm done working in the cafeteria at school, at least for now.
When I get up to throw away the papers our doughnuts were wrapped in, one of the nice-looking old guys at the next table looks in my direction with a kind smile on his face. I wonder if he witnessed the PDA. I hope our obvious love and affection makes people smile.
I sit and drink most of the rest of my coffee, but it's not as much fun to eavesdrop when I'm by myself. I'd like to ask the lady at the counter how long she's been working here; I love baking and it would be fun to ask her about it. But customers are coming in a steady stream, without a long enough break in between to go up and start a conversation. So I head out the door to walk across the street and home. It's warm enough that I carry my jacket instead of wearing it. The sun is just shining over the eastern buildings on the street, right into the windows of our neighbor's apartment. She gets the morning light, we get the evening.
I go home to a house quiet except for the birds chirping and singing outside the open windows.