Sunday, September 13, 2009
One for the fondest memories from my childhood is my Grandma Rose. She was my anchor and often my care giver, always had time for me and taught me most of my life skills. She had large work worn hands and was simply one of the best cooks I ever have known…and I have had the luxury of many fine meals prepared by great chefs, famous cooks, in famous restaurants. She had a limited education, a limited circumstances and a limitless life force that continues long after her death. I miss her terribly. One of her prize possessions was an odd assortment of Nippon Lusterware from Japan which she kept above kitchen cupboards with all the odds & ends of vases and treasures given her by countless grandchildren, adoring children, families she cleaned and kept house for, neighbors, etc. She had a renown garden, vegetables (part of why her food was so good) and amazing flowers. Almost every inch of her Southern Minnesota yard was in some sort of flower bed, She created micro climates by manipulating cold frames, straw bales, wind breaks, burlap, any thing she could come up with to tame the -30 degree wind chills that were far too frequent in Minnesota and spring times far too reticent to coax delicate blooms from the frost encrusted ground. Sue Foster’s snow drops in the grey Noritake Lusterware vase returned me to my grandmother's swimming pool aqua kitchen: wooden table spread with a well ironed, well worn cloth, snow drops perched triumphantly in their delicate Nippon (the earlier name for Noritake) Lusterware vase. Her specialty was apricot kolatchies and although in late winter when the snow drops peeked out, we would have never had fresh apricots, the dried ones would have summoned these plumps fruits of Sue's like ghosts, to the table. Rose had found a theoretically hearty variety for her garden and although it never bore much fruit, they were considered a miracle for the Gurney Seed Catalog to have produced such a thing for her to coax into surviving the Arctic blasts which descended every winter. Sue’s painting evokes the smells of Rose's kitchen, the kolatchies fresh from the oven, apricot syrup bubbly and caramelized, snow drops nodding, silver glaze's soft grey reflections of my grandmother beaming as she watched us wolf down the still warm pastries, big glasses of fresh milk, re-energizing our lanky frames as we unbundled from the raw Minnesota spring air, ravenous from barn chores. I miss my grandmother, but when I gaze at Sue’s painting, she is back, larger than life, tucking a stray errant curl behind my ear, reminding me I had homework before bed. It is through Sue’s painting, the ravenous hunger in my soul's memory is filled, no longer empty from life’s barn of endless chores.