Friday, August 17, 2012
Grandma's Wooden Bowl
Through our days on the farm and before then and since; I have packed and carted my Grandma's wooden bowl and found a prominant place for it wherever we sat and ate our meals. It is a worn and marred primitive relic of days long ago, when dirt roads and massive forests were so thick it was said that a squirrel could travel from Michigan and go down into Indiana and cross over into Illinois and go all of the way back up through Wisconsin and never touch the ground once.
I carried this bowl everywhere I went. But since I've lost most of my memory from before the accident I had no idea what that meaning could be. Yet, to the rockies it went. To the midwestern farmlands it went. And to my dining table it remains a solid link to the past I don't remember.
And then I got to wondering. Is it possible to find hand made wooden bowls that are made in this country now? How much would they cost? I wonder if hand made wooden brooms were still being made somewhere. And so I began searching on the internet to see if I could find any craftsmen still making things the old fashioned way. One at a time, with their bare hands. And I found them. And I was thrilled.
And then I saw a bowl just like Grandma's and it was called a dough bowl or a kneading bowl. And when I saw the word kneading it stirred up a memory. Just a partial one but precious, very precious, of my Grandma's hands working dough in that bowl. She'd put a few handfuls of flour in the center of it and dig a little place out in the middle of it and then she would pour some warm yeasty milk into it and start working the dough.
I can hear her voice. It is as though she is speaking to me from the kitchen a few feet away. Her distant voice, instructing me, "Give it a good throw into that bowl and put some elbow grease into those hands when you work that dough." I could see a glint of light from her wedding ring and those wrinkled hands that were still strong and determined. And all at once Grandma's bowl had an essence about it. I understood why it was so oily. Grandma kept it oiled. "A good dough bowl should be kept oiled." She used to say the same thing about her iron skillets. Wash them but don't soak them. And then rub some oil into them, the inside and the out and set it on the fire for just a quick minute. And then wait until they've cool and hang them from the hook over there, by the stairs. And now I treasure it all, all the more for the knowing of it.
I told them the story of Grandma's wooden bowl. And I taught my daughter how to use Grandma's bowl when she and my son and their loved ones came over for dinner on Sunday. She made an apple pie. We all helped cut up the apples that would fall into that lovely pastry dough and bake up yummy in the oven. As we ate some home made chicken soup with fresh veggies from the garden and Italian bread with nice chunks of garlic and basil sprinkled across it, from the garden too; the aroma began to fill the house. People who have gotten used to instant everything miss out on the tactile feel of preparing a meal. The sweet aroma of sage and curry and garlic and onions in the soup or the cinnamin and nutmeg with a dash of raw sugar for the pie and that sweet, sweet apple baking while we ate dinner and told stories and laughed. There isn't much anticipation of something wonderful being prepared anymore. Or relaxed, in the moment conversation. But it is a joyous thing. A truly joyous thing.
I like the old ways better. We had less but it meant more. What we spent helped someone put food on their own table in this country. When I make a choice these days I am careful to make it based on that principle. It feels solid. As solid as Grandma's old wooden dough bowl.
Here are a few exceptional links that may just offer you some inspiration:
Mark Goodwin Wooden Bowls
Custom Wagons and Wooden Buckets and Bowls
Amazingly Creative Brooms
Moonwise Herbs and Brooms