Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Make Mine Regular Coffee,....Black

It is not exactly news that where I live is no longer considered a rural, or farming area. Some time back Skagit County, Washington "progressed" into a suburban life style. We are now a bedroom community for the Seattle/Everett metropolitan sprawl. We still farm some, and always will, but nothing like it was even as recently as 20 years ago.

On the corner of Avon Allen and Highway 20, the Country Cafe, (Now called the "Valley") sits empty. The old gravel parking lot that was once jammed with farm pick-ups during the week and yuppie transplants during the week-ends is vacant. The last of the farmer coffee shops is about to fall victim to suburban growth. There are just too many cars on Highway 20 for two lanes. The road is about to be widened to 4 lanes and the Country is in the way....it must go.

The farmer coffee shop was about like the local livestock sale barn. It was where you met your neighbors, did business, swapped lies about how well your crops were doing and gossiped about whoever wasn't present to defend himself. Politicin' was conducted with local elections won and lost depending on the whims of the coffee shop constituents.

But that has all changed. The Midway House, a long time hang out for the farmers in the north county is now an antique store. And now the Country is going to be bulldozed to the point nothing will remain. I even have to wonder, how long will the feed mill and fertilizer plant across the highway be able to hang on. Reflected in the dirty windows of the Country, like so much of ag here in the county, when will they have to be removed for the sake of the increase in population.

So where do we get our coffee these days? Well, it's not at a sit down counter where breakfast was served all day. No, these days you'll see our pick-ups, farm trucks and even the occasional tractor at any number of local latte stands. With so many of them scattered about, no single establishment attracts the numbers of farmers as did two or three coffee shops. In this world where being "connected" is paramount, the end of the local coffee shop has definitely disrupted what was once a vital form of rural communication.

Back at the latte stand, I still hold to the old ways, I'm proud to say. When it's my turn at the window, I hand the cute young thing inside my dirty, greasy tanker and proudly say,

"Make mine regular coffee, black."


ABC said...

It's kind of a weird catch-22, isn't it? Communication is so much easier, yet, 3D, real world communication is rarer and rarer. And meanwhile here we are writing about it, lamenting, complaining, on the very medium that is leading to the demise of coffee-shop-style talk. Ironies nesting inside other ironies.

El said...

Martin, this is a great reflection of the gathering places that we keep losing to "progress." And ABC is right about the ironies -- though I tend to think of blogs and email as a way to keep in touch with far-away friends and family, with whom we otherwise would have little contact. Things go wrong when people use these mediums to replace ALL conversation.

The more connections we get, the more we seem to isolate ourselves. But the technology isn't pointing a gun at our head ... it's our choice.