In My Grandmother’s Kitchen

A familiar place. It looked the same, yet I experienced it in a different light. The cabinets were warm and inviting. From the kitchen window, I could see cows grazing, and the 100-year-old sink is now a chic “farm sink” seen in magazines of designer kitchens. Funny how some things never go out of style. My grandmother’s kitchen was where I watched her churn butter, helped her shuck corn and string beans, and heard her fuss at us little guys for letting a barn cat inside. I can still smell sausage frying in her cast iron pan. The meat was cured and ground on the farm. I no longer eat sausage but appreciate this “farm to table” experience. The kitchen was the center of my grandmother’s existence, where she prepped daily lunches for countless farm hands and frequent gatherings for family. This place is full of love and warm memories. My amazing 90-year-old aunt lives there and keeps me connected to my roots.

It’s funny what we remember. Standing on the side porch leading to the kitchen, I envisioned my grandfather bouncing me on his knee at the age of five. The memory was vivid and real. My grandfather became sick and died soon after that day, leaving my grandmother to manage the barn, potato, meat, and tenant houses, not to mention the animals. As an adult, I now comprehend what a task that must have been for her, yet she took the role of matriarch with grace. My dad’s childhood home has been memorialized by local artists, visited by thousands of school children, and welcomed many a preacher, neighbor, and friend. The magnolias we climbed as kids are still bigger than life; the breeze from the wrap around porch still felt inviting. As Thomas Wolfe wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again.” It’s not the same as it once was. Nostalgia brings “home” into a positive light, leaving behind what came between then and now. Lots of life has passed through me since my childhood memories on the farm but it’s in my blood. My grandmother’s butter crock sits in my home; wood from the barn is a mantel; and there’s a cat from a new litter, just waiting to be adopted.

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