This morning, at Chaps, one of my family's favorite places for Sunday brunch, I noticed a young family sitting at the table beside us. Three young boys and their parents.
The mother and father had their hands full with the two younger children, one just a lap baby. But the oldest boy, no more than five years old, was no bother at all. As we ate and sipped our coffee and talked over our own food, I kept stealing glances over to the other table. As good as my plate of eggs and bacon was, watching him was more delicious.
The boy had a big plate of the house specialty, Blueberry muffin French toast, in front of him. Each time he put a bite, smothered in syrup, in his mouth, he would wiggle a little, reacting to the sheer pleasure of it. I found myself smiling at his involuntary reaction, waiting for his next bite. When he turned his attention to the thick slices of bacon, I settled back with my mug of coffee and watched the show.
Lost in a daydream, the boy placed the the end of one slice of bacon in his mouth and proceeded to chew on it the way a farmer might chew on a stalk of wheat. Bit by bit the bacon disappeared as he stared dreamily out the window, his hands slack at his sides and his legs wrapped around the legs of his chair. When one piece was finished, he repeated the process with another.
Finally, the little brothers were done with their breakfasts and the parents had taken one last sip of coffee and were bundling up everyone to go home.
The little boy who had needed no help polishing off a platter of food, stood up and slipped his arms into the sleeves of his coat. And then, as he turned to leave, he noticed a piece of his French toast in his chair where it had fallen from his lap. He stared at it for a few minutes and then looked over at his mother and his father. They had turned away and were already moving toward the door. He stood perfectly still another minute, as I watched, and then reached out, picked up the bit of fallen bread and popped it in his mouth. Just as he did so he looked over and caught my eye. I winked over the rim of my coffee cup. He smiled at me and then skipped off to join the rest of his family.
That, I thought to myself, is how each of us should appreciate a meal that was prepared and put before us. With gratitude and pleasure. Savored from start to finish. Especially that last delicious bite.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Home Planet , Treasure Hunting and CAMera: Travel and Photo blogs, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org