Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Privilege and Cantaloupe

I was cutting cantaloupe for breakfast this morning. I've been thinking of my grandma a lot lately, since she died in March, the day before her birthday.  And when I think of her I usually have memories of food and home and cooking and cleaning with lemon-scented Pledge.

This morning it was cantaloupe.  I usually don't bother with it because of the slicing and scooping out of seeds and so forth.  Plus it gets a little slimy and I don't really enjoy handling this fruit. But it reminds me of childhood. It would be early on a dry summer morning, around 6:30 when the sun comes up over the ridge.  Out on Patit Creek Road it's a valley winding through farmland.  On either side of my grandparents house are cows belonging to the Broughton's and Grandpa and Uncle Kennard usually had a cow/calf or a couple of them to raise for meat.  Old farm implements dot the landscape and Grandpa's shop always had machinery and tools and bins of nails, screws and other things someone might need to fix the problems of the world.  It smelled like oil and old grease and whatever old mamma cat they had would inevitably hide her kittens in the shop because it was out of the elements and cats always trusted Grandpa more than anyone in the world. The five acres my grandparents owned were farmed every year to grow alfalfa or grass hay for the animals.  In later years, my cousins Lester and Little Kennard, the grandsons of my great uncle Kennard, did the seeding and harvesting for Grandpa.  That's what family is for, to go on and to help and to keep things going.

Grandma loved cantaloupe.  She would make breakfast when I was little, getting up early to throw sausage and pancakes on the griddle and she would always have a fresh fruit and milk and coffee to drink.  To wake up in the morning to that was such a treat.  The smell of the griddle and the coffee percolating and sometimes the washer and dryer going at the same time made me happy to be alive.  And we'd sit down and eat when she called us, watching "Good Morning America" on television.  Then it would be dishes and clean up and outside to play.  The sun would begin to cook us and in the afternoon, after lunch, Grandma would take us to the pool for a couple of hours.  There was always cold watermelon when we got home.  Much of that fruit, plus all of the walla walla sweet onions were bought at roadside stands.  The strawberries came from Klickers and once, my sister brought home a starving calico kitten which she called  "Onion Baby".  One of the most loving cats we ever had.

Some people have privilege in their lives through social status or money.  This morning, I bit into the juicy cantaloupe and thought of the privilege of my youth, of gravel roads and public swimming pools and I wonder if I will ever find that again.

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