The Blue Willow Bowl
Thanksgiving Central, the “war room,” otherwise known as my kitchen. In the place where it all begins each year, I search for a mixing bowl that hasn’t yet been soiled and sent to the sink.
Oh, wait. Here’s that Blue Willow bowl I never use, the one Grandma gave me . . . when was it? Seems like it was right after I married. I recall her voice when she asked, “Don’t you need a good mixing bowl?”
I lift the bowl and examine it. How many foods have been made and served inside this cobalt blue and white heirloom? Probably thousands.
My fingers trace the rim. Still chipped in two places—just like the day she gave it to me. Otherwise, I see no cracks. Not any unplanned ones, at least. There’s a crackle glaze that’s rather pronounced around the love birds painted near the bottom. Hmm. Love birds. I hadn’t ever before noticed these.
Now, where is my banana nut bread recipe? Well, it’s not really mine. Actually, I got that from Grandma too—indirectly. For Christmas, one year not long before she died, she gave me a cookbook published by her church. Grandma’s contribution to the book had been her banana bread recipe. She was already up in years when she’d provided those instructions. So she accidentally left out the flour from the list of ingredients. I’ve penciled in the correction.
I stir together the flour, sugar, eggs, and lard. Yes, lard. That’s how she made it. It’s one day a year. I’m probably not going to kill anyone with cholesterol. I mean, it wouldn’t be her recipe if I substituted canola oil.
Mindlessly, I stare at the blue and white china.
I miss her.
It hits me. I am here, stirring the banana bread that I will serve my family tomorrow, and I am mixing the same batter in the same dish that my grandmother used to blend her baked goods decades before this.
So who cares if the bowl is chipped?
Some day, I will look at one of my daughters and ask, “Don’t you need a good mixing bowl?” When I do, I hope she appreciates the significance.
I pour the batter into a loaf pan and turn on the tap to rinse the bowl.
Water pours. The blue willows weep. And tears flow.
Everybody needs a good mixing bowl.