Tuesday, July 1, 2008
The Heart of the Home
This morning I went to the Seaview beach approach to walk on the beach with the dog. It’s the nearest to our house and the nearest to my grandparents’ summer home and where I played as a child. I was looking for some flotsam and jetsam to send to a dear person whom I’d very much just like to bundle up and bring to the sea, but who can’t be spared from home just now.
It’s misty this morning so let’s go inside instead of sitting on the porch. The front door to my house by the sea leads straight from the porch into the kitchen. It’s an unusual set up, but since the kitchen has always been the heart of every home I’ve made I guess it’s good to skip the formality of a sit in the front room and get straight to command central. Has it not always been thus since man figured out fire for cooking and heat, folks gathered around the fire for sustenance of one kind and another?
Our kitchen here is not only where the cooking is done, it is where puzzles are put together, games are played, and stories are told. It definitely is the nerve center of the house. To keep the little ones amused we have a little table and chairs for with two cupboards of doll tea things, crayons and coloring books. Something’s always cooking in our kitchen.
One time, when we’d lost track of my husband who was out kayaking on Willapa Bay, we sat around the kitchen table discussing which to call first, the Pacific County Sheriff or the Coast Guard in Astoria? We paced around the table and out onto the porch where my uncle stood watching in the direction from which he hoped to see Dave come while my father sat smoking at the kitchen table—the only time I ever let him smoke in my house.
Having a front door into the kitchen means keeping the place picked up and the dishes done. The first time we looked at this house with interest in buying, the kitchen was a monumental disaster. A plywood island was covered in dirty dishes, paper plates and left-overs. The sink was so full of dishes I understood why the family was using paper plates. A cardboard box filled with beach sand served as a cat box for their cats, but they had thoughtfully opened the front and back doors allowing a breeze to keep the worst of the stench down.
A front door into the kitchen means that the table is a magnet for things being brought into the house. When I am here alone I manage to keep it relatively clear. When the children come things fly through the air and land on the table. When friends come it groans over the weight of too much good food. The Thanksgivings and celebrations this kitchen has seen! And the door frame bears the pencil marks of my own growing youngest’ height and those of the grandchildren.
Where is the heart of your home? Does everyone gather in the family room around the boob-tube or do you gather at the table breaking bread and, as a dear friend likes to say, “Swapping lies.” We are not devoid of entertainment here.
While there is no regular television in our house we have a set for playing videos and DVDs and there are radios everywhere tuned to one of the excellent community radio stations coming from across the river. Books abound and I have lots of old time radio shows to listen to, but our kitchen is not just a place of sustenance for the body, but for the soul as well. Whether it is just my mother and myself or a whole crowd as there was last weekend, we are there in good times and in bad.
Well, I need to pack up my beach prizes and make a trip to the Post Office over on Lake Street. Thanks for stopping by.