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In The Kitchen

In the Kitchen I

am here, still. It is a favorite place, my kitchen. It is a place where I, now, realize life was most ‘real’ within the boundary of this ordinary room. My kitchen is the same kitchen I raised my family in; not much has changed. The cabinets are still some shade of blueberry; now, cluttered with remnants of holiday cookie cutters and sippy cups. The ‘pantry’ has been moved into the keeping room and hides behind mustard-colored doors that are as old as this house. Now and then, I organize the cans of tomato sauce and bags of dried beans, but, mostly, there is little activity in there. About 30 plus years ago, our kitchen table was replaced with a baker’s island of sorts, much smaller by today’s standards but big enough by mine. It is where I rolled out breakfast biscuits, decorated homemade birthday cakes, chopped vegetables for soups and supper, paid bills and made my early morning coffee; it has served us well this island crafted by Dalton. Dalton was someone who moved into town and started a woodworking business out of his shop. We read his ad in the newspaper and gave him a try. He has since passed, but his incredible craftsmanship still exists throughout my house, and I am happy to mention his name. Anyway, not much has physically changed in this hub of home, the kitchen. I know, looking back, this is where much of our lives happened. This is where food was prepared to keep us healthy (at least that was my goal…hoping it would work), and where little hands learned to write and struggle through homework. Late afternoon visits from my dad happened here as did early morning coffee with my mother. Christmas spreads of food lined the crowded counters, and in summer, there were colorful vegetables from the garden ready to be washed and stored. Birthday candles were blown out and Hannukah candles were lit and there were ‘make do’ vases filled with little bouquets of wildflowers that sat near the sink from a 4-year-old Elizabeth, as did the freshly snapped magnolias from the first days of summer. Many ‘little’ things happened here…in the kitchen. Today, the kitchen is less active, but still, it supports our lives, still, it breathes. I now fill a part of this space with cut flowers and burning candles, baked bread, and a homemade soup in winter; it is a source of comfort and creativity for me. I make lists while sitting on my dad’s chair at the island and I still pay my bills here. I am writing this column from the little built-in desk that has been here always. I watch the sun and the full moon set from the window over my sink, where, every year, I see the first robins of spring feasting on the abundant supply of earthworms and the small birds of winter arriving and temporarily covering the ground with their quick little movements as they are passing through. And some days, when I need it most, a cardinal will appear perched on the branches of the Drake Elm. . Real life happens here.

I write this description of my very ordinary ‘kitchen’, not to be pretentious, but to offer it as a slight pause to, perhaps, appreciate the space that is your “kitchen” …wherever that may be. Pam Shensky Berry Tales March 12, 2023

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