By Suzy Beal
We went to the kitchen with our cuts, our slivered fingers, our bruised knees, and our tears. Our first-aid station dominated by Mom as she administrated iodine, bandages, and a soft word. We found solace, pain relief, and sometimes a treat. She settled quarrels with precise fairness. Even though we might not agree with the result, we held to the fact that she was right. Her discipline ranged from spankings with a switch to having to do chores, or the one we hated the most, missing a favorite dessert.
A warm moist kitchen meant bread about to come out of the oven, or perhaps mom’s cinnamon rolls. In the winter months during the school year, bread awaited us as we got off the school bus. Butter dripping down to our elbows, we hardly savored the taste, so intent on getting our share. There were seven of us and we each had an uncanny ability to sense when someone else was getting a bit more bread, more pudding, more pancakes, more attention, more…more…
The counter top in the kitchen, where we sat lined up as in a café, became the center for our homework problems. Math, spelling, diagraming sentences, preparing, and memorizing for tests all took place with mom on the other side of the counter, her sewing or her newspaper in her hands, while she answered our questions or listened to us read.
We waded into the mudflats and returned home to the kitchen to show off our bounty of sand shrimp we would use for fish bait. We picked huckleberries until our hands and lips turned purple and took the berries to the kitchen, hoping for pies.
In the kitchen, we felt secure. A place where our problems melted away and our hunger sated.
In today’s world, while we battle the Covid pandemic and more people are eating at home because the restaurants are closed, I’m hoping we will return to a time when our kitchens become the centers of our universe, once again.
© 2022 Suzy Beal
Writer and budding poet Suzy Beal spent twenty-five years helping seniors put their stories to paper and this year just finished her own memoir. Suzy’s work has appeared on truestorieswelltold.com, including a serialized portion of her travel memoir. She writes personal essays and is currently studying poetry. Her work has appeared on Story Circle Network, 101words, Central Oregon Writer’s Guild, and recently an essay in Placed: An Encyclopedia of Central Oregon. She lives and writes from Bend, Oregon.