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COFFEE WITH WARREN: Thank you, coffee companions

The inspiration for this week’s column was born in a book brought to my attention by Cochrane’s globe-cycling couple, Robyn MacKay and Bruce Roberts.

As we begin our journey into 2020, I want to thank you for the cups of light and hope you have brought to our table over the past year. To you this column is dedicated.


The inspiration for this week’s column was born in a book brought to my attention by Cochrane’s globe-cycling couple, Robyn MacKay and Bruce Roberts. As noted in their stories I’ve shared with you over the years, they regularly express gratitude for all the compassionate friends they make out of total strangers along life’s highways and byways. (See my April 4, 2019 column).


This amazing book? Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey, by A. J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster, 2018).


Jacobs takes his readers on the Great Coffee Gratitude Trail in which he personally thanks 964 people involved in producing and providing him his morning cup of coffee. These range from a Columbian coffee-bean grower and the Brazilian manufacturer of de-pulping machines, to the cheerful baristas who serve him his morning cup, and the lumberjacks who provide the wood for the paper cup and the coffee shop’s chair on which Jacob sits while sipping.


“My gratitude quest has taken me across time zones, and up and down the social ladder,” he writes. “It’s made me rethink everything from globalism to beavers, from hugs to fonts, from light bulbs to ancient Rome. It’s affected my politics, my worldview, and my palate. It’s made me feel delight, wonder, guilt, depression, and, of course, a whole bunch of caffeine jitters.”


Well, except for the “caffeine jitters” – I actually don’t drink more than a cup a day – Jacobs’ experience is very much my own at the coffee table of these columns.


So, in addition to my own gratitude to all those involved in providing our morning cuppa, I’d like to carry my words of thanks to the next level: to those involved in providing our weekly Coffee with Warren columns.


To begin with, I must thank Elders among the Stoney Nakoda First Nations who over the years have mentored me in the importance of listening carefully to each other around cups of tea or coffee. Their example echoes the biblical wisdom of Israel’s ancient King Solomon who, upon ascending to the throne of his father David, asked one special favour from God: “Grant your servant a listening heart” to govern the people wisely. So, a listening heart full of light and hope is the mandate for these columns.


For the print edition in these columns’ host newspaper, the Cochrane Eagle, thanks to the raw materials that go into the paper and ink, and the publishing team at Great West Newspapers, particularly Editor Cathi Arola, who makes sure I get my columns in on time and presentable.


As for the digital editions, thanks to the computer specialists who make it possible for these columns to appear on your monitors. And here, I must single out my two sons: Reg, who not only provides the occasional guest column, but underwrites the cost of the column’s website; and James, who in addition to his occasional guest column, serves as webmaster.


Then there’s my wife Mary Anna, so talented in word and image, who provides inspiration, garden photos and text editing for these columns.


A special debt of gratitude is owed to you, our readers, for your contributions of wisdom, encouragement, art and photography to these weekly columns. You are the heart and soul of the conversations at our table.


Thank you all, and cups of light and hope to you for 2020!


© 2020 Warren Harbeck