I was in California last week, wrapping up a too short vacation. Somehow the time always flies too quickly when I am away from the normal work grind and this time was no different. I had a lot of good, home cooked food, cooked by someone other than myself, and that is ALWAYS a plus!
My last night there, my friend's mother cooked dinner for everyone and we sat around the table, as always, enjoying the food and the stories of days gone by. One thing I find particularly enjoyable is the amount of time we spend sitting around that round table in the kitchen, savoring 'comfort food' and just talking.
That night one of the stories was about the old saucepan she had used in preparing dinner. She explained that it was a hand-me-down from her now deceased daughter-in-law, her eldest son's wife. The story involved her son using the saucepan to cook something, though I don't recall what, and managing to burn whatever it was, beyond recognition. His wife decided the saucepan was ruined and was going to throw it out. But my friend's mother resurrected it, confident she could return it to functionality.
Sure enough, with a little elbow grease and determination, she returned the saucepan to a usable state. She showed me the bottom of the pan, the copper bottom which is forever marked with the black from the flames of the gas burner. "See," she said, "Brandy had a gas stove."
Later that night, when we were sharing a last cup of tea before heading to bed, I saw that saucepan in the dish rack air drying and something occurred to me. To me, the saucepan looks like a million others -- nondescript, well-used, showing its age while continuing to serve. When she looks at that saucepan she sees much more. She sees a story of a favorite daughter-in-law and a story of her son, and the memory of all that was, that day in the now becoming distant past. To her, that saucepan is every bit as cherished as the photos of those loved ones years ago that fill the walls around the table.
And I suspect the food that is cooked in pans that are so cherished cannot help but taste delicious. Certainly, the food she serves me always is.
Yes, the vacation was far too short, too few opportunities to play and sing, too little time to see everyone, too little time for stories. I look forward to the next opportunity to share time and stories, and eat good food with good people. And I look at old saucepans a little differently.