The sounds I awaken to vary. Some days, it is my alarm clock, or worse yet, my daughter’s alarm clock. Other days, it’s one cat or another wanting to go outside or to come inside. Sometimes it is routine noises made by my husband or daughter as they move about the house in the early hours. On my best days, it’s rain on the roof or the gentle gurgle of the coffee pot.
When I was a kid, the noise three days a week was my mother’s churning. She used a dasher churn, one that required her to move a wooden dasher up and down in like a piston. The churn went “ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk,” with a bit of a sloshing as the dasher struck the continually solidifying milk. It was an ordinary household noise to me, as ordinary as my daughter finds the washer, the mixer, or the bread machine. I know now that it was not ordinary to most people of my generation. When I describe the household I grew up in, which was more self-sufficient than most 1970s households, my friends marvel at my stories. (The picture isn't Mother's churn, but one of a similar style.)
I’ve shared with my mother those early morning memories and asked her what she remembers hearing in the early morning of her 1930s childhood. Her morning memory is the sound of her father grinding coffee beans in a manual coffee grinder that hung on the kitchen wall of their Louisiana farmhouse. The ordinary sounds of her childhood are as different from mine as mine are from my daughter’s. I can’t help but wonder: what noise will someday awaken my granddaughter?