The nanosecond between perfection and ruin

It’s six thirty, PST.  I stand at my three-burner propane stove, watching the yellow-tipped flames and idly remembering that the builder hasn’t responded to my query about the gas orifices.  I let the unpleasant thought pass, and reach for the butter.

The fat spreads.  I tilt the eggs into the pan with one hand while the other lowers the lever on the toaster.  Two halves of a gluten-free English muffin slide down to the burners.  Taking the spatula in hand, I keep one eye on the eggs.  There will be a precise moment to start pushing the unctuousness, folding it over and over until it becomes a billowy pile of silk.

The toaster snaps and I push the lever again.  It takes 1-1/2 cycles to get the muffins to the shade of brownness that I prefer, with crispness on the outside and softness beneath the surface.  Again and again I turn the eggs.  I lower the heat and push cancel on the toaster.  Suddenly, the stars align.  My breakfast comes together, as close to perfection as humanly attainable.

As I set my plate on the table, the dappled expanse of cloud over the neighboring trailer catches my eye.  I sit, lifting my fork to spread the luxurious yellow mass over the bread.  Sometimes I don’t get it right.  There’s a nanosecond between eggs done precisely this way, and eggs which in days gone by would get fed to the dog. I flash on other, recent failures and pause. Then I shake my head, pushing aside thoughts of egg as metaphor.  I raise my mug and savor the first sip of coffee.  A universal cure-all, this is — dusky coffee brewed from freshly ground beans, soft-scrambled eggs in real butter, and the sight of sunrise over the Caliornia Delta through the wide window of Angel’s Haven.

It’s the twelfth day of the fiftieth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

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