Who is this crazy person?
That’s a question isn’t it?
The first thing you should know is that I write in fragments, use too many commas, and create very long sentences. I am -trying- to get better. I promise.
Someday, if I can find it, I will put a picture here of my mother and I in the paper.
You will have to visualize it..
Its yellowed and faded newsprint, and its about .. oh gods… pardon me while I hyperventilate… 30 years old.
Okay, okay, it’s actually more like 33? I think?
So yes- its a little brittle, yellowed, faded and drenched in a caramel like sepia hue. When you reach out to take it, if you are like me, you will hover over its edges without touching it at first, fingertips just barely above the corner- and if you are not like me- hovering in reverence, remembrance, and love; then you will hear the soft crackling of the paper as if the edges want to crumble, but just don’t seem to have the heart to do so.
This is your first clue. I am like that paper- sometimes I desperately want to crumble into coffee colored confetti and fairy dust. But I cant.
The picture is of my mother holding a very little me on her lap in the kitchen; she is being interviewed for a “Meet Your Neighbors!” type of feature that was in the local paper. In the interview, she talks about being a stay at home mom, and handing down her baking skills to me as the next generation. It isn’t until I am older, and understand what was going on in the 60’s and 70’s with womens lib, that I realize what a big deal this was. How women who chose to stay home were (and sometimes still are) looked at as if they were helping to roadblock the movement. But.. and here is your other clue – I don’t talk about politics. So we digress.
I grew up with my mother teaching me how to make bread, krumkake and pie mostly, and a few staples like her version of Hot Dish and Swiss Steak, Chicken and Rice. Sometimes, and I recognize this in myself- she would get adventurous, and sometimes the adventure ended marvelously. Sometimes… like in the case of the Carrot Soup? Not so much. But my mother taught me to love the kitchen, and more, she taught me what the preparation of food really was.
Connections, Roots, History and Love.
I learned that food can transport you instantly to times, places and people with little holographs of memory- even if you have never been there yourself. I may not have been there when my mother slid down the barn roof and cut up her leg, but even the thought of these hard little berries that grew on the trees near my Grandfathers farm in North Dakota and their bitter astringent taste will transport me to fields laying fallow and tall grasses on flat land where my mother grew up.
The smell of bread dough rising is far more complicated, it is not only my mother that I remember (though she is my strongest memory) – It is her mother, my dads mother – Their mothers, and their mothers mothers. It conjures memories of farmhouse kitchens overflowing in bowls and random containers of dough rising anywhere they will sit without toppling over. It is the vision of my father as a little boy, snatching a bun and a glass of milk that is so cold from the well that it has ice chips in it.
I can see him in my mind with red ears and the smile lines well on their way to making themselves a permanent fixture in the lines on his face. When I knead dough, I think of my mothers soft hands, and wish I lived somewhere that I could pound dough out as fearlessly and as aggressively as she once did when we lived closer to one another.
Bread- is a conjurer you see, a storyteller, a poet.
And I learned part of its language while sitting on my mothers lap in the kitchen.
From my father, I learned compassion and how to keep a shred of humor in your pocket no matter how badly you find yourself wanting to crumble. Humor is glue and scotch tape. Like him, I find some of my biggest joy in the smiles of strangers.
I am my fathers impish grin and my mothers long suffering sighs, all wrapped up into one. And so much more.
Like bread -I am too complicated for an About Me page. But I can be summed up into something more simple.
>A mother to an almost 11 year old amazing kid, who happens to have autism.
>A wife to a major music geek who spends almost as much time as I do on the computer- playing guitar and creating amazing music.
>Myself…. who has finally run out of words.
P.S. Mom’s response:
So beautiful and such a tribute I hardly deserve. So eloquent in the writing and reading and brings all those wonderful memories back. Tears flow in happiness that my daughter should think so well of me. Oh, the berries.. are chokecherries.. good for jelly. I love you my heart. Mom.