Remember this?

Every old farmhouse had one. Every country elevator had one. The now-gone country stores and gas stations had one on the back room table. They were the common thing that drew folks around, made then bury their hatchets for a day and made cause for both casual and serious conversation. Of what I write is the old metal coffee pot.

Not the modern, glass-style coffee urns that come with the automatic dispensers, timers and blinking lights. The coffee pots of which I speak were the black-stained metal type of pot with the glass bubble on top and they usually had a dent or two somewhere on their countenance. They were adorned with black Bakelite handles and metal strainers were contained within.

There were few hours during the day that our farmhouse’s coffee pot was not simmering some brew atop our wood/coal/corncob fueled cook stove. A place on the stove’s cast iron top was always found that was just the right temperature to either brew a pot or keep it warm until it was drained. It was common knowledge among friends and neighbors and relatives where the coffee pot sat and they didn’t ask permission before ambling over to the cupboard, grabbing a cup and pouring themselves a full ration of coffee. It was expected that coffee would be available. And that little glass knob on top of the old coffee pot was always jiggling, dancing and doing a fast wobble. You could always see the fresh brewing coffee spurting up inside that old glass knob.

Sometimes, the freshly brewed java was tame to the tongue and other times the coffee had simmered long enough to grab you by the shirt collar and jerk you to attention. No matter, it was downed with relish and a new pot was started without a thought.

Blue cigarette smoke drifted above the kitchen table as strong men wearing bib overalls pulled up a chair, struck a blue-tipped match on their overall buttons, lit up and talked about the price of hogs or fertilizer or perhaps who had some baled hay for sale. The old pot bubbled in the background and poured cup after cup until the discussion was over.

Those dated metal pots were not meant to brew “lite” coffee. It was sacrilegious to make coffee so thing that you could see the bottom of the cup. We joked in our family that our dad brewed coffee strong enough to stand a spoon upright. And that wasn’t far from the truth. One sip from that pot caused your heart to palpitate and raised your blood pressure about 20 points. Ah, that was the good stuff.

Today, we see stainless steel coffee makers, we have machines that produce multiple taste choices and have actual coffee house franchises that have become part of modern culture. A total economy has been built around the beans that are picked by hand in the misty mountains of South America.

I come from a much simpler background and time when all one needed was a banged up, stained, old metal pot that bubbled on the stock and brought us all together. You not only could see the coffee being made, but you could hear the rattle of the old glass knob.

This just in

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reports finding low oxygen levels at many sites across Iowa during the long, harsh winter. Frozen lakes have increased the chance of fish kills. Surprisingly, some deep lakes in northwest Iowa are being hit. Low-oxygen levels are the culprit. Especially hit hard are Minnewashta, Upper Gar and the east end of East Okoboji. Ice anglers are seeing dead fish through their underwater cameras. Other lakes in trouble with fish kills are: Eldred Sherwood in Hancock County, Clark Lake in Cerro Gordo, and Sabula and Spring Lakes on the Mississippi River.

It is feared that this is just the tip of the iceberg. It could be late April before ice fully thaws from north Iowa lakes … about three weeks later than normal. Many rivers in Iowa already are in trouble. The lack of fall rains left our rivers and streams lower than usual and many – like the Boone River – froze clear to the bottom in many places. It is unlikely that anglers will see the impact this summer, since fish populations rebound quickly. The DNR is prepared to restock lakes that might be hit hard.

Bear in mind that our lakes and rivers froze over early. Some areas have been under ice for three and a half months. Some lakes in northern Iowa are still under 20 to 33 inches of ice, so it is going to be around for some time.

And now … have a good weekend.