THIS WEEK'S WORDS come from "Farm Wife" by R.S. Thomas:
clean, sweetly, coaxes, island, apron, humble, corners, daring, seas, body, quiet, embroider
Moira wiped her hands on her apron after cleaning the counter off. The bread was quietly rising in the warm oven, the soup was simmering on the stove top, and she just cleaned the last of the flour off the old countertop.
She'd cooked in this kitchen for so long now that she couldn't remember the first time. It must have been with granny, helping her make biscuits. Moira would have been about 3, and wanted to play with the dough like granny did.
Granny said she learned at that age from her granny, how to make a little dent in flour before pouring in a bit of buttermilk. The secret to good biscuits was in paying attention to them and how you handled them.
You had to love them, same as people granny said. You had to coax their best from them too, just like children.
She leaned against the new kitchen island her son had installed in the big open kitchen, and looked around. Her humble farmhouse kitchen now had a new fridge and island but it was the same view out of the same window she had always seen.
She loved the view, and knew when her great great grandfather immigrated here from Ireland, he had looked out on this corner of the world and seen the future. He came here hoping to find a better life for his future kids, and their kids. He looked stern in old photos but the stories she heard were of a sweet man who loved deeply and worked hard. He had to endure a long trip across wild seas, wrapping himself in daring visions of the adventure he was on in that life.
The bread was scenting the kitchen with the perfume of abundance, because what is more enticing that the idea of a mouthful of warm bread and butter. One could go to a 5 star restaurant in a big city, but nothing was as comforting as a full tummy of warm bread and butter. It meant comfort and abundance.
She wiped her hands on the apron again, feeling it's softness of age, looking down at the embroidery along the edge, remembering when she learned how much fun it was to make as a young woman. Her baby asleep in the corner of the kitchen as she kneaded their loaf for dinner. Stitching that red thread onto an apron had provided a moment in the quiet evenings when things slowed down and she had time to think.
Her body was old now, and often as not her hands and eyes were tired in the evenings but she remembered other times.
The soup was simmering, melding all the flavors from meat and vegetables. She turned on the oven and knew the bread would be perfect with the soup. Her grandchildren would be home soon from school, and walk over to her house across the field. Her granddaughter wanted to learn how to make an apple pie so she would pull up the old stool to the counter for her, the one with the painted rooster on the top. The one her daughter had used. Things change, but the important things continued to be the connection between people.
She sent up a silent prayer that her family would remain close and be safe. She prayed for the great great grandfather's soul and for her grandchildren. Then she went to find the stool and pull it up to the new kitchen island.