Thursday, January 17, 2008

First we have coffee....

It's snowing and the wind is blowing the snow away as fast as it falls here on the prairie. There is some accumulation starting to stick in the grass now. It was a good afternoon for baking up some molasses cookies and having my favorite drink alongside -- good, hot, strong coffee with a tipple of cream.

While I'm having my cookie break, I wanted to share an excerpt from a favorite book that I am reading again called First We Have Coffee by Margaret Jensen. Margaret was the daughter of immigrant parents from Norway who came to America, following "the call" of God to preach the Gospel to other immigrants in America and Canada during the early 1900's and through the Great Depression. The stories Margaret tells are especially about her Mama's simple hospitality which reflected the love and grace of God to ordinary people who needed His touch through human hands. Mama gladly served everyone who came to her home with what she had -- sometimes only potatoes and gravy, soup, rye bread, apple pie made with apples after the brown spots were cut away, and always, always the Norwegian favorite -- coffee. All were welcomed to her table.

Excerpt from the chapter: Heart Healers.....

Mr. Olsen, a redhead with a faraway look in his eyes, often wandered into Mama's kitchen for some good soup and rye bread. He spoke seldom, but stared into space -- and drank coffee. Mama said he was very sick on the inside. He had left the big woods to work in a factory, trying to save money to bring his wife from Norway.

I had only one complaint of his frequent visits. "But, Mama, his feet smell so bad! Can't you do something?"

Do something, she did.

One cold day she suggested that Mr. Olsen warm his feet in a tub of warm water, to which Mama had added a few drops of Lysol. While he soaked his feet, she washed his stiff socks and dried them over the cookstove. She suggested that he might bring them over again with his soiled clothes -- for washing day.

Mama started a ritual. Every week he came to soak his feet and pick up a clean bundle of clothes in exchange for the dirty batch he left with her. Gradually the dazed look of shock disappeared. As he drank coffee, Mama's guitar music seemed to seep into his thoughts and replace some of his pain. One day he burst into the kitchen, exploding with joy! "My Hilda comes! My Hilda comes!" That ended the foot washing ceremony in Mama's kitchen. Who would ever have thought the way to a man's heart was through his feet? Mama understood.


  1. Thanks for the recommendation. I just requested it from PBS! This eXcerpt reminded me of my own Norwegian grandma (wife of a poor preacher) and her simple but generous hospitality. If uneXpected company dropped in, she'd just "put another potato in the pot" and invite them to stay for supper. Oh, and of course, there was always, always coffee...

  2. Thanks for reminding me. I have read that book, but I don't own it.

    I have noticed recently that I miss it when coffee or tea isn't offered at least after dinner. Conversely, as long as I have coffee or tea or water to offer, I feel hospitable. It's so simple.

  3. Okay this book sounds oh so familiar (I have no memory) I will check it out. Love your banner by the way Love Clarice

  4. What a lovely post! I really like the excerpt of the book you shared, so enticing. I'll check at my local library for a copy.

  5. From Norwegian heritage.....I would love to read that book :-)

  6. I am going to look for this book ~ it sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing the excerpt Jody; I really enjoyed it!


  7. I'll have to keep an eye out for this book. It sounds like a really good read.

  8. Such a warm post. I have the book and it is one you want to read again and again.


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