Nathaniel at the Café Allegro

(click to enlarge photos)

Nathaniel Jackson
Nathaniel Jackson making espresso this morning

Our friend of many years, Nathaniel Jackson, Café Allegro owner/inspiritor and caffeinated force of nature, put in one last day before undergoing major surgery.

“What’s up?” Jean asked Nathaniel this morning, having heard the news from his cousin Danny Sherrard, who often works behind the counter.

“Tomorrow I’m donating a few inches of colon to the cause,” Nathaniel grinned.  Squeezing out another perfect shot of rich powerful espresso, Nathaniel was thoughtful. “Thirty five years I’ve been here, building family.”  He’s shaped and nurtured a close-knit community, to which he’s brought his great soul and gentle heart.

We wish him the very very best.

Working the bean
Working the bean

Late night update:

We just received the following poem from Nathaniel. Heady stuff follows:

“Old Barns”

Old barns
Standing in the distance;
Cloaked in grass, morning glories and moss;
Vacant eyes peering over what was and is…
Roofs and walls sagging;
Doors, if there are any, barely hanging,
aided by a rusty nail or two, and entangling vines.
Refusing, thus, to fall all at once…

Old dogs,
Not much to look at,
Hobbling painfully from point to point.
Blink and/or blinding eyes, drooping tail, head bowed;
Concentrating on what was and is…
Periodically rising, with great effort.
Turning a circle or two…
Only to plop back into that very spot,
Now changed in the turning.

Moth-eaten, sway-backed horses
Standing under a tree,
Or by a fence.
In deep contemplation of what was and is…
Major energy, devoted to standing there.
Obliged to swish
at the pesky flies who have no appreciation
that economy of motion is of the essence
in this moment.
Nothing to excess here.

These images have intrigued me since early childhood.  Of a Sunday afternoon, our family would go for a “drive” through the back-roads of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with its rolling hills and farmlands.   My special treat, however, was to actually drive, at age 13 (!), along those same roads alone with my father. The icing on the cake was to be able to listen to The Metropolitan Opera, narrated by Milton Cross as I anticipated seeing THAT barn, THAT horse or THAT dog.  That I held the car to the road was quite a feat and I think my father would nod in the affirmative on that score.

My interest holds to this day.  To the mix I have added: listing outhouses, rotting boats, ancient trees and old folks who are “jes bone taard…” from work, age, or illness.  Here, there is no room for pretense.  It is what it is: an honesty and an integrity which I experience as the inherent beauty of creation manifesting unencumbered as there is no desire, will or strength to do other than just be.

I feel nurtured, honored and humbled in the presence.

This, coupled with the precious moments with my father who was content to drink his beer and pontificate during the Texaco commercials and letting me drive (!) constitute one of my most treasured memories.

That I have given expression to it, to my satisfaction, and that I was able to share this story with my parents makes it even more precious.

For the experience, the perspective and the memory, I truly give thanks.

And in the tradition of the first folks here, I say loudly,



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