Tuesday, January 28, 2014

At Home in the Kitchen

My dad taught me the way around a kitchen.
I learned from lots of observing.

I sat on the kitchen counter 500 times if I ever sat there once, talking with him and watching what things he paired together, and I learned to do the same.

As a little person, I sat on that counter as he sliced shortening into flour with a little salt, loving the swish of the knives as they passed each other, making his famous pie crust.
And as he cut off the extra dough, I ate it, loving that just-slightly-salty flavor.

The kitchen was also the place for canning side by side
or crushing berries for homemade jam.
I remember so many times
at the kitchen sink in the evening,
working away, just he and I, 
slicing a whole container full of strawberries or peeling Bartlett pears.

In my mind's eye, I can see us there.
I can almost hear the hum of the crickets outside the windows,
see the dusk settling in on the mountains and this valley we call home.
I can hear the pot of water on the stove, and see the beautiful
bottles of fruit on the counter that we've just taken out.
If I look out in the backyard, I might see the Y lit up on the mountain.

We are laughing together, cracking jokes.
Or working in comfortable silence.
Or talking about something serious.

As I think about it, it was the place where most of my crucial education took place.

I didn't just learn about spices or pinching this and pinching that, about how you have to add a teaspoon of salt to the bottom of a quart jar before you begin to fill it with tomatoes, or about how true magic happens with a little bit of butter.
I learned that a good smelling home and yummy food brought comfort to the soul,
that it knit people together. 

But it was more than that. 

Through those countless precious conversations,

I learned that relationships are at the heart of what we do.
They are the reason and the why and the joy and the pain of it all.
They are what makes life worth living.  

Which brings me to this.
This boy of mine, who adores being in the kitchen.
He is always and forever my appendage there.
He wants to know what's happening.
He wants to taste and try it out with his own two hands -- chopping, whipping, stirring, seasoning.
Just the other day I heard him saying that he had to watch so he would know.

He is beginning his own culinary masterpieces.
I'm hoping it is a long and glorious story of love and devotion,
of learning and flavor and kinship and fun.

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