YOU SEE A LOT of human nature when tucked quietly away in a corner of a coffee shop. Enough to philosophise, sometimes.
“Skill at billiards,” the Sage told me once, “is the sign of a well spent youth.” I think he had the quote wrong but in his innocence he’d added a certain oblique something. I didn’t correct him. I wouldn’t dare … so: what is skill at coffee?
Again I wouldn’t dare.
I have friends who can walk past a garbage can and identify down to what-facing slopes in a vineyard somewhere the grapes used in creating the contents of a week-old well sucked bottle therein were grown on—and they’d be accurate to within mere metres. Now that, rich or poor, educated or me, is the real sign of a misspent youth.
No, I’m not good at coffee—but I do know what I like. Sue me.
SO RIGHT NOW I’m once again ensconced in SB’s Invercargill, gazing in rapt wonder at a vision to delight to any old seadog’s eye. Blue eyes, blonde hair a la ponytail, sweeping fans of eyelashes, a figure most Southland battle-maidens would kill for and wearing sprayed-on shorts that look like the ‘hot pants’ of several decades back. And so vivacious with it—this is a damsel who enjoys and makes the most of life, one who carpes the diems …
So, we’ll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.
—and then, just a few minutes ago …
Let me set the scene:
My table deep inside this cafe has good visual command of the approaches. Out front the shop is wall-to-wall glass, possibly a dozen metres or so. So?
SO: A LITTLE OLD LADY complete with dowager’s hump, grey hair, cardigan etc etc … just took simply ages of non-stop effort to make the traverse across the frontage outside. It went something like this:
zimmer frame — HUP!
reposition — plonk
lean into repositioned frame — now
deep breath — suuuck, and
advance two shuffles — go!
slither … … slither
dwell a pause, then
zimmer frame — HUP!
reposition — plonk …
… etc etc. You get the picture. And so it was until she disappeared (eventually) from sight, obscured by pillar and wall.
You have to understand that although a stiff breeze is slowing her progress it is finally springtime here and the sun is uncharacteristically beaming.
SO TOO was she. Smiling hugely the while. Not the inane grin of the mentally challenged but the genuine full-faced cheek-to-cheek happy smile of someone thoroughly enjoying life—meeting a challenge head-on and beating it. In fact, this is a damsel who enjoys and makes the most of life, one who carpes the diems …
I feel a lesson there, even for a jaded and possibly somewhat embittered old cynic. Two ends of a stick? I leave that one to the philosophers, I’m just the reporter here. Again I feel humbled. And imbued with the deepest respect and admiration …
The poem: ‘NO MORE A-ROVING’ by Byron