We left the creek to drive south through the mountains to spend the weekend with family, but I am not writing about the wonderful, eclectic love shared by parents, siblings, aunts and uncles. Nor am I writing about the beautiful colors that dressed the mountainsides in the many burnt hues of sunbathed fall.

The morning after the family gathering, we woke early, knowing that we would likely find ourselves exploring on the drive home. After a short while, thoughts of coffee and breakfast led us to pull off the road. The warm smell of coffee greeted us as soon as we opened the door. The tables were all full, but a cheerful hostess with a damp rag in her hand smiled and led us to the counter. I soon realized that we were seated right in the center of mountain hospitality and breakfast efficiency. Warm mugs of coffee in hand and orders placed, we sat on our stools taking it all in.

A little boy immediately to my left was playing with two action figures. We smiled at each other as the two figures began to play closer and closer to the counter space in front of me. I began to rummage through my purse.

Down at the bottom, I found what I was looking for: a large blue marble that had been made at the marble factory about a three-hour drive from the creek. I dug it out and showed it to the child’s mother as I asked if it would be all right if he brought it home.

I explained where it was made, at one of only four surviving marble factories in the whole wide world. “Yes,” she beamed, and I handed it to her son. He thanked me without any prompting and put it right into his pocket, “too special” for the figures to play with, but told me that it would look great in the back of one of his trucks back home.

We ordered our breakfast, and as I savored my coffee, I said goodbye to the boy and his family. I turned my attention fully to the scene before me. Three short-order cooks were preparing breakfasts on the grill across from our counter seats. I soon realized that their movements were nothing short of choreographed dance, pure poetic cookery in motion. One fellow was the meat man. He lay thick slices of bacon and fat sausage patties on his
grill and cooked them to perfection. The fellow next to him was the egg man. He deftly cracked countless eggs into small skillets.

Some became omelets, crisp veggies, diced ham and cheese layered inside. Others he let cook “sunny side up,” gently lifting the pan and swirling it so the egg within slid effortlessly around the edges, not spilling over but gliding until its borders showed a light brown crisp.

I almost gasped as he nimbly raised the pan and tossed the egg into the air with a flick of his wrist so it flipped over, landing perfectly back in the pan as an “over easy” order.

The third cook was the toast, waffle and biscuit maker. His waffle iron bubbled over with sweet batter dripping down the sides. Toast popped up from his line of gleaming toasters, and the smells from the oven were sublime when he opened it to remove a freshly baked batch of biscuits.

Our breakfast was wonderful, and as we lingered over our last coffee refill, I felt as though I might have stayed at the counter forever, sipping the perfect brew and watching the teamwork of the three cooks as they prepared each customer’s plate to order, but the creek and our animals called.

As we headed out the door, cheerful goodbyes followed us, and it occurred to me that the next time we headed south to visit our ever so special family, we would have to stop off for another ever so special mountain breakfast.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio. Visit them at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.