It is Saturday morning and I am ensconced in front of my computer with a cup of coffee. (I’m not sure that one can actually be “ensconced” in front of a computer – maybe in front of a roaring fire but not a computer. Oh well, it’s there and I am not going to change it). My trusty cell phone (which, like my computer, does not lie) informs me that it is twelve degrees (that’s 12°) outside. I have made a decision that I will remain here with my coffee as long as I can get away with it. It will not be long as the matriarch of the house is up and about. She will no doubt spot my immobility and dig out the proverbial “honey do” list. No, but for the time I do have to me, I will endeavor to enjoy it with my coffee.
Coffee has a special place in my heart. It kept me warm and awake on many a cold, dark night in the Army. The Army that I remember made their “field coffee” in ten gallon pots over an open fire stove (called an M-2 burner in those days). Most of the time, the grounds were dumped directly into the water. One was left to sift the grounds out with one’s teeth or take the risk of internal havoc and swallow it. Enterprising cooks of the day would fill Army-issue wool socks (new ones, I think!) with grounds and set them in the water. That procedure had nothing to do with making life a little easier for the soldier. They just did not want to have to clean all those grounds out of the pot and so create what we would now call a hazardous waste. Regardless of how they made their field coffee, it was never very good. It may eventually be found that entire legions of soldiers were permanently scarred, physically and mentally, by this evil mixture. The truth is that the value of that coffee came when we filled our canteen cups with the more than likely toxic concoction. The canteen cup was metal so conducted heat pretty well. Soldiers back then filled the cup to the brim and, most of the time, never took a drink. The only function of coffee for many soldiers back then was heat for his/her hands. The ones (including me) who took the risk of actually drinking did so out of lack of sleep more than anything else.
So, as I sit here with my coffee and remember those cold nights, I do so with some degree of nostalgia and one burning question that I will never know the answer to. Did our cook “really” use new socks or am I bald for reasons other than heredity?