My friend Mary and I hit it off from the first time we met at the Heirloom Café brunch bar. It’s the best spot for getting to know the staff and for meeting new friends. Starting up a conversation with a stranger is easy when you’re sitting elbow to elbow.
Mary and I have celebrated birthdays, work anniversaries and New Year’s Eve at the Heirloom. On the day my dog Reggie was put to sleep, I brought him to the Heirloom for his last meal. Mary didn’t know about Reggie yet. Perhaps it was serendipity that she just happened to stop by the patio for lunch that afternoon and was able to see Reggie one last time.
The following winter, Mary and I shared a different type of memory at the Heirloom Café.
Feb. 8, 2020 started out like any other Saturday morning brunch at the Heirloom for Mary and me. Until, light snow began to fall. The flurries looked like white feathers. Within an hour, the snow began falling heavily on the cars, bushes and pavement. Children laughed and danced in circles in the parking lot. College students climbed inside the bed of the famous blue Heirloom truck to take photos. Not a single patron entered the restaurant without wisps of white lingering on their hats and coats. As for Mary and me, we simply sat quietly, taking it all in.
Before we left, Mary asked one of the restaurant staff to take photos of the two of us standing in front of the Heirloom truck.
As we posed for the camera, Mary said, “Look up!”
I tilted my head up toward the sky and was amazed at the crystal-like scene. The view of the snow from that angle reminded me of looking through the glass prisms of a chandelier. We opened our mouths wide, and the freezing cold snow tickled our tongues.
As the snow fell faster, and the blankets of white grew thicker, I started to feel pangs in my stomach. I was going to have to drive home in the snow for the first time in my life! I had no idea what to do. Mary advised me to take my foot off the accelerator and try not to press hard on the brake. “Don’t panic if the car starts to skid. Steer into it and go slow.”
My car was covered in snow. I took a deep breath as I shifted the car into reverse with the wiper blades on full speed. Following Mary’s instructions, I eased out of the parking lot onto Boulevard and then cautiously turned right onto N. Chase Street. As I began to relax, I guided the car as if I’d been doing this all my life. It’s impossible to describe the thrill I felt! Driving down Prince Avenue, I was laughing aloud and exclaiming to no one at all, “I’m driving in the snow! I’m driving in the snow!”
The snow continued falling all the way home. Thanks to Mary’s advice, I made it back without a single skid.
Mary suggested that we send copies of our photos to the café owner, Jessica. She absolutely loved our pictures and posted one of them on the Heirloom Instagram page.
This memoir is dedicated to everyone I’ve ever met at the Heirloom Café. You may never know what you and your restaurant have meant to my life these past seven years. To say you will be missed is an understatement. May your lives always be as beautiful as that rare winter snow.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.