My place. Wednesday, 8.15am
‘It’s great to have a day at home,’ I think as I sip the coffee. Mmm. A sarong, a cup of coffee and excited parrots in the gum. What a beautiful day.
The coffee is delicious. I like making coffee. It’s a hallowed rite involving beans, fire, milk and me. On days like these, when no obligation calls me away from my shack under the cliffs at the end of the world, I take my time with the coffee ceremony, losing myself in the process. I take refuge in ritual. Worries disappear as process replaces thought.
And, with life as complex as it is, with the world as wild as it is, with my head as besieged by questions as it is, I do enjoy time out with a day at home, alone. No Bernardi, climate change or existential quandry. Just me, the parrots flashing rainbows in the sun, and coffee.
First, I carefully robe myself in my special coffee preparation sarong. It has an ancient coffee stain (Lavazza, 1996) which, in certain morning lights, looks like Superman’s face. Then, after intuitive measurement of the ground bean, I make fire and immerse myself in the transcendent formalities, testing brew readiness by aroma and milk temperature by finger (pinky, right hand), frothing it with my sacred frothing thingy.
On days like these, time shrinks to eternity. The mundane becomes the magnificent, the bean the be-all. I’m like a paunchy zen bloke with sarong instead of sutra, coffee instead of koan. And coffee – its preparation and consumption – is the meaning I search for.
‘It’s great to have a day at home,’ I think, coffee steaming in front of me.
The coffee beans were grown at Mackellar Range. This mob uses no chemicals or pesticides when growing their Coffee arabica. I can see the northern part of Mackellar Range through my window, behind the gum with its peeling bark and squealing parrots.
In a global economy, it’s refreshing to drink coffee from the hill next door. In a toxifying environment, it’s heartening that sensitive agriculture still survives. And, in an era of wildlife depletion, it’s pleasant to be engulfed in rowdy parrot play.
My coffee cup is rough cast from Pilliga clay. I got it when I went to the Pilliga forest earlier this year. The forest was under threat from some corporation or other. Humans rallied and defended the place against the inhuman. (Go the humans!) Corporations may rule the world, but there is still human resistance.
One human, a potter, made these cups for the forest defenders. I really like this cup despite the obvious wonkiness of its shape and its uneven glaze. Even the gum leaves painted on it spill outside the sketch lines.
I like this cup because it’s made by a human. It is an example of an old buddhist ideal the Japanese call wabi sabi: imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. It’s an ideal that treasures the human, values age, and respects repair. Wabi sabi has mostly been replaced by new, young and perfect. And disposable.
This cup reminds of the Pilliga. Of the battle. It reminds me that the Pilliga forest is again under attack…
A cloud moves in from the south. A shadow falls over the land. The parrots quieten.
I sip the coffee. I don’t want to think about Pilliga, Paris or pollution. Not today. I want to sit with my coffee and taste nutty nirvana.
I want to watch the steam rise from a wabi sabi cup; a cup that teaches me the world is just what it is – imperfect, impermanent, incomplete. And beautiful.
It’s great to have a day at home.