“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. ” – Maya Angelou
Growing up on a farm, when I wasn’t outside riding, playing or doing chores, I was in the kitchen. Looking back, I spent a lot of time in our farmhouse kitchen: cooking with Mom, reading the paper with Dad, playing cards with my siblings, ironing, folding and mending; I worked on 4-H projects, practiced public speaking, studied for finals, debated politics and other news stories with friends and neighbors and, of course, talked on the phone. We had a wall-mounted phone with a cord that only went so far…and still does. Farm living meant a party line shared with Grandparents and another family nearby; we learned to listen for the distinct ring that belonged to us.. and for the breathing that meant more than 2 parties were in on your conversation!
Centrally located, the kitchen was, and still is, the heart of the home – bedrooms and bathroom in one direction, living and dining room in the other. It was never quiet in there, either. The countertop radio was the first appliance turned on and the last to be shut off at night. Country music, farm reports, grain prices and weather updates peppered our conversations.
The kitchen was the place to stand up as straight as possible so Mom could hem a dress; with 5 kids, it was our makeshift “E.R.” – “stay still,” we’d hear, as liberal doses of iodine cleaned up most wounds. It was – and still is – the place where visitors were greeted by a coffee pot perpetually “on” and home-baked goodness cooling on the counter. Directly over the furnace, it was the warmest room in the house, and there were frequent scraps between my sibling and I over who had dibs on warming up over the floor register.
When the hubbs and I bought our Michigan house, it was not at all what we’d planned on. We’d had enjoyed a newly constructed house in Houston, and this was not only old, it was dated and needed lots of work. It was dark and decorated in a 1970s colors – avocado and burnt orange.. ugh. But something about it’s quiet dignity spoke to us; then, our boys were 14 and 8 and the multi level, multi-roomed house with lots of spaces was appealing. The large yard, long neglected, held promise. Slowly, old carpet was removed and replaced. A fresh eggshell paint brightened the walnut-colored kitchen. The dark countertop was replaced with a lighter color laminate and bulky overhead cabinets were jettisoned, letting sunlight stream in. Now, it’s my favorite room in this old house. It’s there that you’ll find me: cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, helping with homework, playing board games, reading the paper, finishing projects, talking on the phone, chatting with neighbors and singing along to the radio.
Recently, a friend stopped over for the first time and paid us the most lovely compliment: “I just love your kitchen; it’s so cozy, like a farmhouse in here.” I smiled, poured her a cup of coffee, and we sat down for a long visit over a piece of warm cake.
What’s your favorite room? Does it bear any similarities to your childhood favorite?