Look Thy Last on All Things Lovely

Look Thy Last on All Things Lovely

Several weeks ago I went to the new Stumptown Cafe in Lower Manhattan with a friend. We were fortunate–we had a chance to do some cupping. Along the counter were a variety of coffees brewed in different ways: Chemex, V60, Beehive, French Press, and Vacuum Pot. We tried them all, but wanted to have some coffee brewed by the vacuum pot method.
You can see from the picture why we chose that method. It is an older method, which requires more attention and care, but the process is spectacular. It is a light show. We were dazzled.
The coffee was from Guatemala–rich with a chocolate aftertaste. I told the barista that my friend and I loved the magic that happened between milk and coffee. She was not impressed, after working so hard for us. She asked, “do you add milk to a fine wine?”
The delight at the brewing exists only in my head now, and in this picture. Sometimes we think freedom means holding on to something, the key to the lock, the ship to the sea, the wings for the air. But even those things are going to pass. The coffee my friend and I delighted in is gone. Someday the memory will be gone too.
In the last three weeks, three people who were dear to me passed away. Conversations we had, significant moments, now exist in this world only between the walls of my skull. Albert Schweitzer once said that if people would only take three minutes at a funeral to really think, the world would be a different place. At death, one feels a deep, heart-breaking wonder. Each of us also remembers that one day our bodies will be a bag of bones in a coffin, our hands cold and dry and motionless.
The poet Walter de la Mare once said, “Look thy last on all things lovely, /Every hour.” Beauty, I think, is not really savored unless we realize how quickly it passes. With all the grieving, this fall season has been the most beautiful ever. Outside my window are some Honey Locust trees. In October, the leaves become a buttery abundant gold and fill our windows with waving generosity. Now, in November, only a few leaves remain at the end of the branches. Those few leaves sparkle in the sunlight this morning. They are exquisite.

Taylor Field
Upside Down Freedom


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