The birds were twittering sweetly as I stepped out into the light of morning. The sun was doing that movie style glow trick; a glittering golden orb, streaming and blinking brightly through the tree branches.
The wind was moving pleasantly over the grass. Squirrels were cutely chasing each other all around and up and over everything.
It was, in short... a borderline disgustingly hunky-dory and cheerful outside this morning.
Taking a sip of my coffee, and inhaling the faint smell of cinnamon, I began my trek down the steps; yesterday they'd been so icy that I'd almost fallen screaming "NYMPHODORA!" at the top of my lungs... that's what I get for re-reading Harry Potter.... today they were dry and again, creaking happily.
It was a gosh darn zippetty-DO-DAH-morning.
The kind that if you're cheerful too, is akin to stepping into a warm bathing glow of light and feeling as though kicking your heels, would not be out of place behavior.
I felt a lift: I won't lie. I'm a morning person.
Walking along and breathing in the cold 23 degrees Farenheit air I was suddenly struck by an old memory.
A memory of waking up in a room with wallpaper like a blue willow china pattern.
The wooden slats of shutters striped the sunlight as it was streaming through the windows. The smell of bacon and Folger's coffee and toast was wafting through the air, mingling with something slightly mustier... something more like a spicy perfume.
Opening my eyes fully, I could feel the warm, fragrant breeze fluttering the lacy curtains, dancing with the sunlight and swirling tiny dust particles like sand in a jar of water; gleaming.
The bed was soft; navy cotton sheets and down pillows and comforter; the smell of clean dust -- that's what the feathers smelled like.
Everything was warm, blue, happy and shining with sunlight.
"Goood MOOORNIIIIING!" came floating down the blue carpeted hallway to the back bedroom where I was stretching, trying to decide if it was worth getting out of the delicious cocoon I was curled up in.
THUMP THUMPITY THUMP-THUMP!
Three heads peeked around the corner. Two blond, one sandy brown.
The eldest head had a full shock of long, shiny, straight hair and bright blue eyes belonging to my cousin E (age 20). The slightly shorter, blond curly head, belonged to my cousin J (age 10), which left the sandy brown curls to be my cousin N (age 9).
All three faces were grinning at me (age 6) as I sleepily rubbed my eyes.
"How did I sleep in? When did you guys wake up?" I murmured. Usually N and I were a tie for first awake.
He and J and I, all slept in the room I was in; the boys in the other set of bunk beds. E had the larger guest room in the middle of the hall, because she was the eldest.
"We just got up to go to the bathroom. Beat you by about 3 minutes!" Stated N, bouncing into the room and jerking the covers off me good-naturedly.
"Hey!" I exclaimed, nudging him with my foot.
"Grandma says breakfast is ready," said J, excitedly but quietly.
"Hurry up! She's calling us again," responded E, rolling her eyes, but smiling just the same.
Bouncing out of bed, we all tumbled down the hall, half-racing, half laughing across the parkay floor of the living room and up the stairs into the kitchen.
"Doe, dee, doe, doe, dooooooe," sang Grandpa C softly, humming to himself between 'does' and shuffling his feet. He still had on his dark gray, navy piped pajamas and slippers.
"Oh goodness, you're ALWAYS singing the BREAD song!" chirped Grandma B fussily, frowning at the stark white head of her husband.
His eyes crinkled into a smile and he winked at us, before whistling and beginning again...
"DOOOE, DE DOOOOOE, DOOE, DOOOOOOOOOOE!" a slight vibrato making the louder singing that much more intense.
"OUT! Shoo! Out of the way! You're blocking the stove and I need to get the kids' breakfast on the table! OUT!" she clucked at him, smiling despite her irritation.
He sidled over to the end of the long counter, and grabbing the newspaper at the end of it, sank into a walnut-colored kitchen chair and disappeared behind the overlarge pages, humming all the while.
"Can I have some coffee?" asked E sweetly.
"Yes, it's fresh in the pot," she motioned to the back burner of the stove.
"CAN I have some TOO Gramma?" said N excitedly.
"You and J can have a tiny bit, but make sure it's mostly milk and sugar, or it'll stunt your growth," purred Grandma B smoothly. With flashing blue eyes, she began to gently stir the eggs in to a fluffy mixture of milk and butter.
SHUNK! Up came the toast, streaks of golden brown across the ivory slices of bread.
J fished out the hot pieces onto a plate, and slid two more into the toaster, clicking the lever down firmly.
N was staring over Grandma B's shoulder, watching her as she stirred the eggs, gently swaying from side to side, her shoulders slightly rounded, the skirt of her night gown gliding along with with her. She was humming in a delicate soprano; vibrato buzzing out of her gently, a light smile on her lips.
"H, E, would you please hand me the butter and the bacon?" she ordered politely.
Pulling open the icebox door with both hands, and nearly falling over in the process, smelling the cold, salty air that issued forth, I found the bacon packet and E reached for the butter dish. I reached onto my tip toes and slid the bacon onto the counter to the right of the stove, E scooting it further as she set down the butter dish, so it wouldn't slip onto the floor.
"Thank you girls! N! What're you doing with that milk carton! Be careful now," she cautioned loudly.
N was holding the milk nonchalantly by the handle, swinging it back and forth. He grabbed a glass out of the cupboard to the left of the fridge, and began pouring himself a healthy serving, a little too quickly. J stepped over and reaching for a second glass, tried to take the milk away from N before he was done topping off his.
"HEY! LEGGO!" N yelled at his brother.
"You're going to SPILL it, DUMMY!" J hollered back, they were elbowing each other fiercely, cheeks flushed and hair mussy as they fought over the carton, which was splooshing dangerously.
"BOYS! That's enough!" Grandma C barked, "Everyone over to the table. NOW!" she finished.
E walked ahead, her hair falling softly down her back, carrying the plates that had been set aside for the table. I bounced after her. Standing behind me, she helped me set one in front of Grandpa C before finishing up the rest of the place-settings.
N grabbed silverware with his right hand on his way over, walking very, very slowly so he wouldn't lose a drop of the milk he'd filled up to the very top rim of the glass he was holding tightly in his left. The surface area tension was like a large bubble at the top. Dropping the silverware carelessly onto the table, he gently and carefully set his milk down by the place next to mine.
"SIT!" commanded Grandma B.
Each of us slid into our seats. "C, we're about to eat, so please put away that paper, would you?" She said firmly.
"Yes Dear!" He said perkily back to her. She set a bowl of eggs, a plate of bacon, and a plate of toast onto the table, before reaching over to the counter to hand us each a small juice glass. Then she set the big glass pitcher of orange juice in front of E and sat down herself.
"Heads bowed," she began, and said a prayer, blessing the food and us alike. While she was solemnly reciting, I snook a peak at N, who was bouncing up and down in his chair he was so hungry, his eyes squinted, his hands together, but he couldn't sit still to save his life. J was sitting quietly, as was E, who took that moment to whisper to N,
"All right everyone, let's eat!" said Grandpa C.
This memory is one of the few I have where my cousins from both sides aren't all mixed up together.
J, N, and E are all from my dad's side of the family, and I can't honestly think of a childhood memory or holiday where we weren't all together.
When D, C and M were over, it made the grandkid number 7, and that doesn't include the friends and second cousins who would usually pop by.
We're all spread out now, but I love my cousins and I'm grateful to have grown up with them.
E is like my big sister, N and J and C my big brothers, D and I are 6 months apart (they dressed us like twins for a good while) and M will always feel like my baby sister.
I wouldn't be the person I am today without them!