ENDPAPER | SUNDAY MORNING
SUNDAY MORNING IN UPSTATE NEW YORK BY KATHLEEN HARRIS
Spring has arrived, but winter’s nip still lingers in the hushed hours of first daylight, surprising the handful of indiscriminate shoppers who are scattered and scurrying along the main street of the small Catskills town where my family and I often spend weekends. My husband and children are still at home in their beds, nestled and asleep, and I am alone on this early-morning excursion. All of us out on the street are moving briskly to stay warm, but puffy eyes and unkempt hair belie the acuity of my sleepy sidewalk cohorts, as we each venture out on errands. There is tender beauty in these plain movements. The day has not yet fully formed. The air smells new, untouched. There is the certain possibility that this could be the most wondrous day we’ve ever experienced. For any of us. All of us. Those of us out in the world before eight A.M. seem to be in neverending need of warm, comforting beverages, as the continually opening door of the local coffee shop attests. I scuff along the bluestone slabs in my banged-up cowboy boots, and make my way towards the entrance, watching the door’s plate-glass reflect a rectangular glare of white with each swing of its hinges. I take my place in the queue, and those ahead of me in line all move one kindly step forward to accommodate me — another early riser caught unaware by the morning’s chill. They’ve all been last in this line. They know how uncomfortable the stinging air feels on the backs of ears and uncovered necks. They make enough room so I can shut the door behind me and be warmed. After several minutes, I advance in line, place my order, and 68 GREEN DOOR | SPRING 2014
wait at the side of the counter, allowing for other customers to pass through the narrow shop. I watch a scruffjawed, chiseled man, sporting a salt-stained baseball cap, as he whispers to his toddler son seated on the counter. I notice, out of primal female habit, how many coffee cups he takes with him when he leaves. And I smirk as I catch myself doing so. There are two large, lidded cups in front of him. Of course there are. He’s too beautiful for just one. A man like that doesn’t drink coffee alone on weekend mornings. Before he reaches for the to-go cups, he places both hands gently underneath his son’s arms, and moves him swiftly from counter to floor. It’s attractive to me, somehow — the ease and surety and care he takes in transporting the child’s body, the boy’s sweet, clutching reach for his father’s shoulders, and the way they execute the movement together, conjoined and well-timed, making their progression almost effortless, like lithe dancers. He balances the cups and clutches the child’s hand, and they recede into the crowd, which is still forming in defense against the temperatures hovering in the forties, just outside the door. “She knows my face,” I hear one woman say, and I glance over to see the type of person I’ve expected to utter such words. A whitehaired woman, still a decade or so younger than my parents, speaking to a man at the next table. She’s updating him on the state of her mother’s health, and her increasing level of dementia, as the man nods and listens. His face is soft, and sympathetic as she speaks, and he can’t reach out to her, because of the physical distance between them. He wants to touch her, and to offer some connection or comfort — I sense this.
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