Monday, August 23, 2010

The Perfect Scone

The first day of school is all about setting the alarm clock. Once everyone is up, the routine comes back to us. It’s muscle memory, like riding a bike. Breakfast is prepared, backpacks stuffed and carline maneuvered, and then, because it is tradition, I go for coffee with an old friend. We’ll call her The Nurse.

The Nurse, working as she does in an Emergency Room at an area hospital, has many interesting stories to share and more than one has inspired an idea or two in my writing. But as we sat down to coffee on the first day of the 2010/2011 school year, she did more than entertain me with tales from her weekend shifts. She introduced me to scones.

Now, I’ve eaten scones before, or I thought I had. Never been much of a fan. They were generally hard and crumbled into marble-sized chunks at the slightest touch. Not much flavor although given that they took so long to chew, I never ate the whole thing and thus saved a few calories. There’s always a bright side. But on that Thursday morning—ahhhhh, that Thursday morning—I learned what a real scone was all about.

The first sign that this scone was unlike all others was the dollop of whipped cream resting in its center. I dipped the tip of my fork in the cream. Real. Another good first sign. The fact that it was served with a fork—good sign. The fact that it was served on terracotta stoneware thick enough that it wouldn’t break even if dropped—good sign. And then, the first bite.

I held up a hand to stop the conversation. The scone flaked. I didn’t know scones could flake. I took tiny bites, chewed slowly, sipped coffee between each mouthful, let The Nurse do most of the talking. I savored my first real scone and if I could have, I would have picked up that terracotta stoneware and licked it clean. Instead, I handed my crumb-free plate to the server, dabbed the corners of my mouth with a napkin, and said thank you. That was delicious.

From the first bite, I knew that the entire scone would be delicious. I knew I was in good hands with the chef who had prepared it. Trusted that every nut, bit of dried fruit and chocolate chunk had been carefully choosen and mixed in the perfect proportion. I didn’t need to eat the whole thing to know that every bite would be delightful. But I did.

I can say the same about a book I’m reading right now. From page one, I knew I was in good hands with this author. I didn’t have to read the whole thing to know the book would be wonderful, but I will. I’m reading it slowly, savoring it as I go. If you’re interested, the book is The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson and the scone can be found at Banyan Coffee and Tea at 689 MLK N in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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