coffee on the coleman stove

I’m reading a book titled “Chasing Alaska”.  I enjoy historical books, and books about far away places, so this one fit the bill on both points.  Today I read a passage where the author woke in the morning to a cold boat.  Everything was a little damp, and there was ice on the inside of the windows.  He climbed out of bed, lit the stove and put on a pot of coffee.

I was instantly transported back in time, 1972 probably.  Mom and dad and I were camping in our “pop-up” camper.  It was March, or April, or maybe even October, but we were on Ocracoke, and it was a cold damp morning.  Sitting here now I can smell the coffee, the odor of the Coleman fuel.  I can see my dad standing over the percolator pot and my mom wiping out the thermo insulated mugs, inlaid with a woven yellow and green pattern.  I can feel the damp canvas of the tent and see the little chips of ice on the inside of the plastic windows.  Mom and dad both had cigarettes dangling from their lips, and as much as I detest smoking,  I never gave it a second thought when it was them. Mom’s wearing a striped cotton robe over her sweatsuit and dad has on a shirt emblazoned with “Buddy Clough” across the chest pocket.  Later that day we would venture over the dune and mom would catch the biggest drum I’d ever seen, reeling it in through the surf, laughing with her bandana wrapped around her head, still wearing the robe. 

And we would make another pot of coffee.  That smell of coffee in the camper, that wet heat of the coleman stove, man, they are such strong memories.  So many problems were solved, voids were filled and plans were made, sitting across from each other at a formica table with thermo cups and a hot cup of coffee, from the coleman stove.  What I wouldn’t give for just one more conversation with the two of them, on our island, in our camper.

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