Early to rise, shower and find some clothes. Kiss Sue goodbye and remind her to take care on her drive to work. Jump in my car and make the three minute drive to my local, which is usually just opening as I park outside.
Tables and chairs are being arranged by my friend, whom I doubt has much English, as our mutual smiles and greetings never vary. I have only ever heard two phrases from him in the past year: “Good morning” and “Thank you”, so I don't make things hard for him by widening the conversation. He is my friend. The smiles and nods we exchange testify to that.
A chair at a table overlooking the Broadwater. Coffee, eggs and crispy bacon. A morning routine that I kind of like in my own small way. Rain, cold, wind, bright, hot sun. Day in, day out. I realise how predictable I have become when the boss of the place, 'Rocky', (he is a slightly built young Chinese man) raises his eyebrows and tells me with mock seriousness, that I am late.
I have come to appreciate this morning hour.
Sea birds crowd together on drying sand banks while Pelicans glide past them distainfully. Quite often, if you pay attention, the small ripples and splashes of bait fish break the surface here and there. One morning a pod of dolphins played just near the shore before heading out into the main channel. That's the sort of thing that can change your life in an instant.
Walkers and joggers remind me of one routine I have let slide recently. The chairs here are so comfortable. I will get around to my daily walk again very soon.
Once the remains of breakfast are removed from the table (my friend is very efficient) and the ritual 'thank you's' exchanged, I settle down to scanning email, news sites, and occasionally working on a blog post. I tend not to chat with fellow breakfasters. Mostly we are a self contained bunch. We recognize each other of course, but as to introductions? No.
There are those, like me, who find a spot to sit and enjoy the down time, not bothering anyone else. You may not be surprised, however, to learn that some do not fit this profile but still manage to make up the happy composite of morning rituals at Rocky's Coffee Shop. Construction workers in their high visibility vests come in twos and threes buying take away coffee and never stay long. One or two passers by take a short cut through the tables, sometimes with a dog on a leash. Friends often drop in for a quiet coffee after their morning walk, sitting in twos and threes, drinking in the ambience of morning sun and lazy waves lapping against the sea wall.
Not so the groups of lycra clad cyclists. What is it about cyclists? Maybe they can't make the change from needing to shout to each other through the traffic. Ten cyclists clip clopping across the floor in their pedal shoes to a table near me is a signal that I need to finish up here and begin the rest of my day. Then there is the table where one guest has the answers to all life's complexity (usually connected with politics) and feels the obligation to share them, not only with his companions, but also with the rest of us. This person always has a penetrating voice. This person also often has the intellectual grasp of a ten year old, alongside the self belief of bores everywhere. It is one of life's enduring mysteries why people sit and put up with loud opinionated gas bags, let alone let them drone on long after the coffee is finished. I tend not to. A suddenly remembered appointment can be helpful in this context.
You know? It has occured to me more than once that I might not be the most tolerant person ever to draw breath. Do I know all the answers? Do I have truth and wisdom cornered? No and no. Have I ever written an opinionated blog that irritated someone? Once or twice I guess.
So, on this morning spent once again beside the water, drinking coffee and feeling so grateful for the daily opportunities to be here doing just this, I feel the need to dip into my humility account and smile at my companions, be they lycra clad cyclists, have fog horn voices, or jar my neck as they push their chair back into mine without looking.