Oh my it felt like winter this morning.
Sometimes I pause and take it all in - the near barren trees, the scent of winter on the wind, the cold sky, dim look and feel of the town - and think I can't believe we're back here again! The seasons pass so quickly. Well, summer and fall do, anyway.
But then late afternoon arrives and ... it's still autumn.
After the recent drastic changes, we've fallen into a comfortable rhythm at Bully's. With our shortened hours (we now close at 3PM every day) the same people work all day which eliminates the confusion of switching from the day shift to the night shift staff.
I arrive at 8:30AM and Pete is the first to greet me with a hearty good morning! when I pass through the kitchen on my way downstairs to clock in. Usually by the time I'm back upstairs Josh arrives and I open the door for him while I grab my mug from the baking/roasting area and head up front, where Aida and Ryan man the counter. Aida always smiles and gives a Well hello there as though it's a pleasant surprise to see me rather than a daily occurrence. It's not usually busy just then, so I fill my mug with freshly brewed, steamy black coffee and cradle it in my hands, warming them, while we chat. How's your morning, so far? Ryan will ask, and we might swap tales of our morning workouts or changes in the weather or clips on the internet we watched or read that the other suggested the day before.
Then I take stock of coffee and baked goods, make myself a list and head back to my little room to start the day's work.
These days, the back room is cold and stays cold - and will stay cold for the next 9 months - unless I've got both the oven and the roaster going at the same time, so I try to organize things in such a way that I do a little of both each day. It's hard to wear a sweater under an apron and be able to freely move to bake. Better for the room to warm up.
At 9AM the "kids" arrive - Andrew kitchen boy, and Holly the dish washer. The dish washer is just around the corner from the baking room so Holly and I usually have ample time to chat while we work. She turns on the radio when she comes in, music that mostly only she likes but no one ever changes it because it's an unspoken rule that dish washer gets dibs on music selection.
I've loved baking autumn-themed baked goods: pumpkin gingerbread muffins with cream cheese frosting, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, pecan pie muffins, apple cinnamon chip muffins, pumpkin cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, pecan maple quick bread. BUT I'm about over it, ready for no more pumpkin. Christmas goodies are more diverse: as long as its decadent, it can be considered Christmas! I already know how I'm going to decorate the sugar cookies for Christmas, and can't wait!
Around 10AM Ryan will pop his head into the baking area and ask Early or late? and we agree who will take break before lunch rush that day and who takes it after. We both usually prefer after, so we take turns as much as we can, depending on what I've got going on in the back that day.
Lunch rush - all hands on deck, and on a good day we're all hopping to keep things moving along, and usually it does like a well oiled machine. Except when it doesn't, but we're always able to laugh about it shortly thereafter, whatever "it" happens to be that day. Everyone knows what to do, how and when, for the most part, and we're able to be speedy and efficient while keeping it fun. Laughter is always peppered in, for extra flavor, to the lunch rush. I think this is natural but also deliberate.
There might be a lull after the rush, and some days - like today - the afternoon sun streams warm in the windows, and we might make a french press of coffee while Pete leaves to run errands and Aida sits to do bookwork. Maybe a pot of tea, or share one of Pete's candied apples and have some conversation; me, Ryan, whoever's still in the kitchen (Josh or Andrew), Holly. Somehow, despite the daily sameness, there's never a shortage of conversations to be had. Customers we know come in, and some we don't, and often are simply included in the current conversation, or maybe they begin or prompt a new one.
Then it's time to start cleaning up and closing down.
Another day at the coffee shop.
There are worse existences.
As Pete leaves at the end of the day he often calls out Let's do this again real soon!
Tomorrow? I respond. Same time, same place?
And we do.