Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

I type to the rhythmic sound of my daughter mixing a concoction of Goldfish crackers, potato chips, Cheerios and saltines. She beats wooden spoons against a metal bowl, pausing in her labor only to say: “Look, Daddy, soup.”

Daddy, of course, responds appropriately.

In the background, NPR news hums over the kitchen radio. Thunder rumbles, and rain drops occasionally hit the windows. It is dark and chilly outside; the wind blows, and birds chirp excitedly in the wake of the oncoming storm.

Inside it is warm, and the aromas of a butter-covered griddle, Swedish pancakes and freshly brewed coffee waft their way from the kitchen to the living room where I write.

“Whatcha’ doin’ Daddy?”

“I’m making pancakes.”

“Oooh. Yummy.”

I hear her clang her spoon against her soup pan.

And I sit, fingers poised over my keyboard, feeling a little like an eavesdropper as I inhale everything around me. This is one of those moments when I just want time to stand still so I can savor every sound, smell, sight and taste and have it to enjoy for the rest of my life.

We have no plans for the day, nowhere we have to be and nothing that we have to do. Today, we choose to spend our free time just being a family. As I write, it seems backwards to me that we need “free” time in order to spend time as a family.

After breakfast, I decide to put three aging bananas to use and make banana bread. I enlist my daughter’s help. Armed with a potato masher and unmatchable zeal, she goes after three bananas that are past their prime.

“I help, Momma.”

“Yes, you do. Now let’s put the flour and the sugar in the mixing bowl. Can you mix all of this up for me?”

She immediately leaves the banana mashing task and takes up a clean wooden spoon to mix the flour and sugar.

“Now, I need to add two tablespoons of baking powder. Can you help me count? One tablespoon…” I level a tablespoon and hold it over the mixing bowl.

“One!” she exclaims as I empty the tablespoon into the bowl.

“Two…” I level the second spoon.

“Two!” she declares as I empty the second tablespoon.

By the time we have the batter in the pan, she has mashed the bananas, mixed the dry ingredients, counted tablespoons of ingredients and eggs.

“You’re a great helper.”

“Thank you, Momma.”

As it turns out, my daughter refused to eat any of the banana bread. But, she did tell all her grandparents that she got to mash bananas that morning, so I know that the morning’s activities weren’t lost on her.

They weren’t lost on me either. I never got to taste any of the Goldfish, potato chip, saltine and Cheerio soup, and I doubt it will be a recipe that will garner any foodie awards, but I did get to savor family time with my daughter and husband. I did get to see delight on my daughter’s face as she helped with the cooking and cleaning. My daughter is only two, and her long-term memory isn’t developed yet, so events of this day will quickly fade.

But, maybe when she is a single woman living in an apartment on her own and the only things in her pantry are Goldfish, potato chips, saltines and Cheerios, some part of her brain will awaken and she’ll think fondly of her family. Perhaps she’ll spy the aging bananas on her counter, pull out a potato masher and “go after” them with unmatched zeal as she pulls out her mom’s banana bread recipe and starts to bake.

Maybe today will become more than a just a pleasant memory of the past for me; maybe it will become a hug for her in the future.

© 2009 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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