Slow down and put the kettle on

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

It was a seemingly innocuous comment. “I bought one of those Hot Pots,” a friend said. “I got tired of waiting for the tea kettle to boil water.”

It was a sign of many things, not the least of which is how my friend and I have changed, or how our ways have parted, in the last 10 years.

Waiting for a tea kettle to boil is among my favorite things in the morning.

After getting up, letting our dogs out and then feeding them, I put a full kettle on. While it gets started, I set out my travel mug and tea cup with a bag of Earl Grey for each, and my bowl of homemade instant oatmeal, all ready for their dose of hot water.

Most often, I lay down on our couch, enjoying the quiet hiss of the gas stove accompanied by the pings and pops of the kettle heating up, the soft breathing of full-bellied dogs napping on their fleece pad, and the purr our cat Pinky, who inevitably hops into my lap to purr me back to sleep.

The short morning nap is disrupted only by the whistle of the kettle, which precedes another short ritual: pouring the travel mug, pouring the tea cup, pouring and mixing the oatmeal.

How can one get impatient with such a thing? It takes, with our stove and a full kettle, perhaps 15 minutes for water to boil. If Pinky doesn’t succeed in her mission to put me back to sleep, then I may be up and making lunches for Derek and myself while the kettle heats up.

The electric tea-pot I have in my office — where we have no stove — takes less than five minutes to boil 1.5 liters. I’ve had my share of hot pots over the years, more because of the lack of a good stove-top kettle than anything else. I even have an electric tea-pot in my office — a well used Christmas gift from Derek — where we have no stove for boiling water.

But I have never preferred an electric tea pot to boiling water on the stove.

There is pleasure to be found in things that force us to slow down. Were it not for that time I spend waiting for the kettle to boil, I wouldn’t notice the harmony of sound in the stove’s hiss, the dogs’ contented sighs and Pinky’s purr.

The whistle of the kettle is far less obtrusive, to me, than the anemic beep of the microwave, or the jet engine-like roar of the electric tea pot I keep at my office desk.
If I can’t afford 15 minutes for the kettle to boil, then I have far too many things going on. And if I have too many things going on, I don’t have enough time to do any of them as I’m rushed from one thing to the next.

And I do not like being rushed — a strange admission for a newspaper editor.

Put the kettle on and slow down for a few minutes.