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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

Holy Grounds Cafť

Nicole Jones
Class of 2014

(11/2013) Steam rose from my frothy hot chocolate as the sides of the oversized mug warmed my chilled hands. I sipped at the mugís creamy contents. Mmm, just how I remember it.

The first time I tasted the hot chocolate from Holy Grounds Cafť was two years ago. Even though I had eaten lunch across the street and driven past it on my way to Jubilee, I had never once noticed the yellow and red letters in the window reading "Holy Grounds Cafť Ė Coffee, Pastries, Cold Drinks." A friend and fellow editor of the campus newspaper The Mountain Echo wanted to talk a bit about work over some coffee, which is why I was confused when she parked us out front of the Ott House. As far as I knew, it wasnít much of a coffee joint.

"Weíre going across the street, silly," Alyssa had said while pointing at the small building with three cars filling the spaces out front. I was still slightly confused as the door we walked up to read "St. Philomena Catholic Books and Gifts." Thatís not exactly what we opened the door to, however. Sure, to my left there were Bibles, icons, and rosaries, but to my right were small, polished round tables and a counter filled with mugs. I was taken aback. How had I been at the Mount for two years and never known about this cozy treasure?

The walls were a warm blue and the menu was displayed in colorful chalk on two black boards and continued in marker on a set of round mirrors behind the counter. Coffee mugs and t-shirts displaying the Holy Grounds logo were displayed alongside a newspaper stand. Iíll admit, I was a bit slow at the time and didnít process anything on the menu; I just asked Alyssa what was good there besides the coffee.

I was a little curious that after paying we didnít wait at the counter for our drinks like I was accustomed to at most coffee shops. Instead, I followed Alyssaís lead and promptly took a seat to chat. We claimed one of the round tables in the corner by the window where we could gaze out onto Main Street traffic. A few minutes later, the lone employee behind the counter walked over with a smile and two oversized mugs that could have passed as small bowls. One steaming sip of rich, creamy hot chocolate later, I was in chocoholic bliss.

Alyssa and I werenít at the cafť during a very busy hour Ė I only remember one or two other tables being filled Ė but it was clear that this quiet little corner was a popular place. People hopped in and out of the bookstore or grabbed a muffin to go. The staff was obviously small but extremely friendly. It was the perfect place to facilitate our conversation. I remember a sign advertising open mic nights the first Friday of every month. What a fun, community building idea, I thought. I wondered how popular the event was and immediately determined I would make the cafe my regular stomping grounds.

After a little research I discovered that in 1996, this little joint began solely as a small non-profit bookstore on Emmitsburgís Main Street. After changing hands twice, Bruno and Pam Sielaff came into ownership. The family-owned business has since moved to its current location at 2 West Main Street and expanded to include the Holy Grounds Cafť. I have not had the pleasure of meeting the Sielaffs, but I am grateful to them for preserving this piece of our community. At the Mount, Iím surrounded by a tradition of religion and faith, but it is a sweet and rare occasion when I find this environment away from school and home. It is part of what makes this little shop so special. It is a connection to more than just a good cup of coffee; it is a connection to people and a community of faith. In this way, it was familiar before I even knew of it.

Now back at my old table in the corner, I glance out the window onto Main Street and canít help but wish that Iíd taken the time to follow through on my decision to make this my regular spot just a little sooner than I have. It took me an entire year before I made my second visit to this sweet little shop. Now itís my senior year and Iím all out of "try-it-next-yearís." Itís this year or not at all. But Iím here now, and itís exactly how I remember it. The quiet coming and going of customers, the friendly staff and cool blue of the walls, and, of course, the giant mug of hot cocoa Ė in a year when everything is changing, itís nice to know that some things stay the same.

My recommendation to you, reader, is to take a moment out of your week and visit the Holy Grounds Cafť if you have not already. If thatís not your cup of Joe, then go ahead and stop by that roadside stand you keep meaning to check out or attend that annual street festival you keep meaning to take your friends to. As long as you have the means, there is no point in waiting. Next week, next month, next year will come, but think of all the time youíll have wasted just wishing when you could be doing. Take action and discover a new connection with the world around you. I promise you wonít regret it.

Read other articles by Nicole Jones