three inches of snow. yay. temperature at 11:35, 29°
I grew up in many places. Many houses. It is who I am, a woman of a house that was built into a side of a hill, a woman of a small home on a lake, a woman of a lofted apartment, but mostly, I am a woman made out of my grandparents house.
Their house was set on just barely two acres of land born from my great-grandfathers farm. When you stand at the end of the driveway you can imagine, between the cars that travel the highway of route 74, what it was like when the sun set at the farm, how the land must have look in the spring when it smelled of earth and new.
My grandmother’s house was to me, idyllic, to say the least. There were gardens that my grandmother tilled, and orchards that my grandfather tended, and open fields to run barefoot in, even though gram warned us of bees. There was pool with a pool house, that when I was sixteen, I might have brought my friends to, and I might have suggested we could jump off the roof of the pool house into the pool – and if I didn’t suggest it, I certainly went along with it.
There was a compost pile before it was hip. There were gardens of heirloom tomatoes before it was the sustainable thing to do. My gram recycled cans before there were those ubiquitous blue barrels at the curb.
There were long days in summer, and picnics where my grandparents lead sing alongs, and where my grandfather would fix martinis and gin tonics for all his friends. In retrospect, the gin probably explains the singing.
There were car rides where me and my brother and three of my cousins would pile into the back of a Chrysler. The Chrysler did not have a third row, there were no booster seats for the young ones, and we shared seatbelts. There was ice cream that stuck to every inch of my younger cousin who had the same name as me, but pronounced it different.
But mostly there was my gram’s kitchen.
Look at this picture of skinny tan girls with summer kissed hair. We are probably 9 and 12 here, if not 8 and 13. We are, I am sure, stirring strawberry jam. Or applesauce, or blueberry jam or peach butter, or, or, or. . . It doesn’t even matter it could have been any manner of summer goodness, it was that commonplace.Tonight I washed that pot so I could boil water. Tonight I am thirty odd years old, and I look forward to that pot on my stove. I haven’t had it long, but I have it because that kitchen doesn’t belong to her anymore, and because she doesn’t cook anymore. I have it because before she was getting better in a nursing home it was my father cooking her dinner, and watching her sugar intake, and filling her water-glass.
So much of who I am can be boiled down like apple butter and be told in just sentences that are short like summer vacation.