Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Scrubbing the Oatmeal Pot

Today is her birthday and a memory of my Mother entered my consciousness this morning. I could see her standing at the kitchen sink scrubbing the morning’s oatmeal pot. A chore she hated. But that did not deter her from fixing those steel cut oats every morning summer and winter. She put them to soak at night before she went to bed and then rose early to fix what my father called “porridge” before he left for work. By the time I got up, the oatmeal had congealed in the pot and I would squash the still slightly warm lump and mash butter into it and sprinkle it with brown sugar or pour syrup on it. Later my mother would have her breakfast using the “slice it and fry it” technique for the remaining stone cold blob. That bowl of oatmeal was ready and waiting every morning when I came up from the barn and I didn’t know until I left for college that not all folks started their days that way.

I get up early and fix it for myself these days. It still makes me feel warm inside and out and ready for the day’s challenges whatever they may be. I still put butter on it and brown sugar sent me from my Minnesota friend who has maple trees. And then I stand at my kitchen sink and look out the window past my scrawny geraniums at the neighbors setting off to work and school. And I scrub that pot. I hate scrubbing that pot just as she did. But I can’t bring myself to use any of that fancy Teflon cookware for this comfort food. I have to use that same old pot from my Mother’s kitchen that I still have after all these years.

Today is her birthday. She was born February 21, 1895. She died fifty years ago in 1957.


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