On any given day, depending on the time, you could almost guarantee you’d find my mom eating and drinking certain things with the smallest margin of error possible. She was a lady of simple tastes for the most part. But let me tell you, she knew good.
Sweet cold tea with a ton of ice.
A buttery english muffin with avocado on top.
Fresh toasted bread with real butter and honey.
Good Earth tea.
Plain old Red Rose tea.
Vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s syrup.
Really good tomatoes with salt and pepper.
A milky cup of coffee.
Fresh corn on the cob.
Cantaloupe and watermelon in the middle of a hot afternoon.
Give that lady a pot of water and she could make delicious soup out of anything.
The first morning home with our son, my husband and I were greeted by my mother at the door with a pan of the best cinnamon rolls in town. She heated them in our oven and served them to us while we all stared, agog, at our new son. I’ll likely never eat one again without thinking of that.
When we were kids and storms from the desert would push their way over the foothills and rattle us with thunder and lightning, she’d make popcorn and hot chocolate. At my niece’s birthday party a few weeks ago I asked an old neighborhood friend if he remembered that. He got this look on his face and said, “You know, I hadn’t for a long time but just now when you said that? Man…I can TASTE it! I can taste it and almost smell the rain!” Her love was not lavished on only her own kids.
We grew up in a town that gets hotter than blazes in the summer and stays hot until well into October. We had no air conditioning and so keeping cool was always of prime importance on sweltering summer days. Mom used to turn the sprinkler on and over in the shade we’d see a watermelon hump under a wet towel waiting for supper time. I guess the serious dietitians out there might faint when I say this but, if it was hot enough, sometimes that cold watermelon was all we’d eat at dinner, grinning at each other over our rinds. She used to do the same thing when corn came to all the farm stands in town and you could buy ten ears for a dollar.
I am beginning to realize now how many tastes I have associated with my mother. What a heritage that is in its own way.
Tonight we are having a freak, cold rain storm in the end of May — unheard of here in Southern California. To fit with the mood of the day, I made a pot of ham, bean and barley soup and finally made good on my promise to myself to learn how to make a loaf of bread. As it baked in the oven and the soup simmered and all the yeasty, savory smells wafted out of the kitchen to our noses while my husband and I played with our son I wondered if she ever stopped the way I do now and thought, “oh…someday THIS is one of the things they will remember about growing up. THIS is one of the smells, one of the tastes, one of the days that will still feel warm years from now…”
Whether she did or not, I do. I do because there were just so many simple things she made precious with her love. And I benefit from it still. It’s why I’m smiling while I sit here eating homemade toast with honey, sip some tea, and write to all of you.