What could be more homey and cozy than the words "tea-kettle"? Blame it partly on an early over-exposure to The Hobbit, what with Bilbo Baggins's longing for the kettle just starting to sing, but I believe there's a wider truth to be told: a tea-kettle might represent one of the great heights of human progress.
Big whup about Danish modern design or flat-screen televisions or GPS-enabled-mobile devices when compared against the ability to hot up water quickly -- and in such a neat, contained manner!
I tap the big red lever at the base of the power-cord to start the current flowing from the wall outlet, grab the heavy black handle to heft the works to be sure I am not heating three tablespoons of water. I can walk away and wait for the grumbling drum-roll that announces the boil, or I can tune my ear to the distinctive click of the kettle shutting itself off. Is the sound metallic or does it sound like old melamite? Both -- and also like peace and civilization.
Within a very short time (watched or not) the water has boiled and I am free to make a cup of tea, or brew a cup of coffee with my Melitta filter, or prepare instant oatmeal, or fill a hot-water bottle, or sometimes, simply sip on warm water. Warm water can be a comfort.
Consider too, how the addition of the slightly retro word "electric" adds a layer of charm to the phrase. Everything these days is "electronic" or "digital" or "wireless," with the power of electricity taken for granted. But an electric tea-kettle -- that IS a miracle.
There is no kindling to split, no heavy three-footed cauldron to heat over a campfire, no coal fire to stoke, and no pot merrily boiling itself dry over the gas flame. Instead this shining exemplar of the glorious mid-Century American manufacturing tradition, a Platonic ideal* of a tea-kettle that sports a wide, shining body and a generous triangular spout. No sketchy Chinese steel or soft plastic to degrade, no digital read-outs to break. It's been going strong for three, four, five? decades.
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