The percolator is plugged in again. In a few seconds small murmurings will be discerned, murmurings that, like the small puffs of a breeze that begin at dawn along the beach, will soon swell into a series of waves crashing upon the kitchen shore. How such a small device can voice such a powerful presence is a mystery. I looked it up once, convinced it must be a mechanical wonder with multiple components that bow to the fiercely hot flow and pressure of vapour and liquid. What a surprise to discover the simplicity of it all. What genius invented this marvel of the mass-caffeine age? Who could be responsible for this colourful saviour of each day? Tommy Edison? A Russian scientist with a name like Kalashnikov? Perhaps an Ottoman coffee drinker named Khafee the Magnificent! Hardly. A lowly teetotaling soldier in the Bavarian army, 200 years ago it turns out, attempting to get the stimulus of alcohol for himself and his buddies without imbibing ein paar bier.
There it goes, speaking in submerged hisses tumbling over one another in a regular pattern, speaking to me in a tongue that is unique to percolators. This cycling of sound, this rhythm, comforts nearly as much as the brew produced. Rising and falling with a steady beat, a percolator’s noise is a not a noise at all. Rather, it is the sound like that of a humming factory that creates its own community of life within itself. Sometimes factories sounds are created by individuals themselves, as in the hand-made furniture workshop, and others by the sound of central machines, a log carriage in a sawmill perhaps, sliding to and fro on its rails, resonating like the approach and departure of a subway car, rapidly reciprocating as an impossibly huge saw slices at it like a block of cheese in the hands of a deli worker. The steady thrum of propulsion gives a factory that rich sense of life; the huge organism is awake with purpose. I am reminded that each percolator, like all factories, is unique in its rhythm of sound. The business of work always seems to generate its own call according to the task.
The daily grind comes with great perks
Copyright James V. Michalec 2015
Having just replaced our old percolator, a tragic family loss, a new sing-song device converses round and round in its place. The previous percolator spoke of determination, accenting the beginning of every bubbling push with a drill sargeant’s “rummph!” while the new one talks in terms of a smoothly running little ship that dutifully goes about its business to the gentle sound of a well oiled piston or two happily churning, slowly, deep in the engine room.
A sip. Ahhh, yesss! The new kid on the butcher block has finished its work and lies idle until called to life again. Woolx-bound and mug in hand, I head out into our vast, eighth of an acre space (that big?), an urban Serengeti in snow that lies beyond the safety of the back porch. There’s hope as usual on the anniversary of the great vernal equinox. Apple buds, in a cycle of their own, will soon lead us from chains of ice into the annual triumph of summer. The percolating talk that pulled me through each winter day, providing me the sounds of good companionship, delivering a drink worthy enough to be called a beverage, and stimulating body and pen, will not vanish. But with the sun soon calling me to the outdoors as it works extra hours, the chirping pot will have to settle for half-time.
Copyright James V. Michalec 2015