stillpoint

musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Grandma's Kitchen

I've often thought it strange that I'm unable to recall my childhood in any sort of detailed chronological order. I'm quite certain I was a happy child, despite a habit of solitary days spent reading on the porch or camped out in my hide at the end of the garden. If only I'd known my youth would become such a mystery to me, I'd have kept a journal from the time I could write. If only.  
Instead of a timeline, I have random but brilliant spots of recollection, as vivid today as they were at the time. Grandma's kitchen is one of those spots. I can close my eyes and find myself seated at the long table, legs dangling beneath a too-big-for me chair as I snack on tinned cherries from a blue willow bowl. I see Grandma at the sink, her back to me, wearing a yellow, paisley-patterned apron, its strings tied in a neat bow. The countertop is red, the walls a buttery cream, and there's bright sunlight streaming through the window.
 
Behind me, in the corner, is the cot where I sleep when I visit overnight. Grandma made the coverlet from swatches of suit fabric, stitched into cotton-stuffed triangles and knotted together at the corners with bright strands of red wool. I remember playing with those swatches when they were still bound into display books, dozens of them, with stiff cardboard covers and a red needle-and-thread logo. I have no idea where she found them but the transformation from surplus fabric samples to warm and wonderful blanket was typical of Grandma's "waste not, want not" philosophy. A patchwork of blue serge and houndstooth, pinstripes and checkerboards…oh, how I miss that funny old blanket.
 
I remember waking in the cot one morning feeling as if my face and neck were stuffed full of the same cotton wool as my blanket. Grandma took one look and proclaimed, "Mumps!"  Her kitchen doubled as infirmary for the next ten days and I was stuck there for the duration. I don't remember my confinement but I vividly recall the day it ended. I was sitting at the table, enjoying that bowl of tinned cherries, when my Mom and Dad arrived with a big cardboard box. I thought it must be very heavy and probably fragile because they seemed to be worried about dropping it, whispering and struggling to balance it between them. Truthfully, I was more interested in the cherries than whatever boring thing they'd brought home from their shopping trip. Until the box woofed at me, that is. If I'd known having the mumps would earn me a puppy, I'd have had the mumps a whole lot sooner!
 
Cookie and me, 1956
Cookie Cooke - best dog ever - and me (a few years ago).
 
Now that I've started writing them down, memories of Grandma's house are crowding into my mind, each one calling another into the light. I haven't found the funny old blanket, but I'm almost certain Grandma's yellow apron is packed away somewhere with keepsakes from my mother. I'm going to look for it – imagine the stories it has to tell.
 
  
 

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2 Comments:

At 1:28 pm, Anonymous Susan McNicoll said...

What a fantastic story Cheryl. I was already going to ask what happened to the blanket and you answered it further down the story. Cookie Cooke looks adorable and you haven't changed a bit! Memories do come in fragments like that. My memory is quite good from 9 on but the earlier infrequent memories are just glimpses of my life but oh how vivid they are. I have some journals I wrote from my teens on (although I threw most of them out a few years ago - stupid I know) but I wish I had kept a journal when I was young (6-13) because I would love to know my perspective on things at that age. Thank you for sharing this memory and come back and let us know if you find the blanket or the apron. I wish "items" could speak to us and yet, perhaps they already do.

 
At 4:01 pm, Blogger Cheryl said...

Had a good chuckle at your "haven't changed a bit" comment, Susan. I'm taller, for one thing. And gained a pair of glasses. But otherwise, I'm enjoying the fantasy. Thanks! ;-)

Like you, I've thrown away some journals and deeply regret the loss. If I'd known then, etc., etc.

I'm almost positive I saw that apron recently but have looked in all the likely places and ...no luck. When I do find it, I'll post a photo. Maybe Sam will model it for us. (Scary thought!)

 

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