Ordinary things

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(HOST) In the spirit of the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, commentator Edith Hunter has an appreciation of ordinary things.

(HUNTER) “I have been so great a lover: filled my days so proudly with the splendour of Love’s praise, -“

Rupert Brooke’s poem was always a favorite of mine. I was able
to share parts of it with my children when they were quite young because of the specificity of so many of the objects of the poet’s love. “White plates and cups, clean-gleaming, Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust; … the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon smooth away troubles; and the rough male kiss of blankets…” Nothing was too mundane to be included in the
poet’s list.

I was reminded of the poem recently as I was drying a white porcelain six quart pot that I have used for years when making pickles, or jam. As this canning season ended I suddenly felt grateful to this pan for its many years of service. Although I sometimes wish it were a little larger to allow for the “full rolling boil” called for in the strawberry jam recipe, it is still my favorite
for that particular chore.

Some other kitchen items also make my list of loves. One is a six-quart aluminum kettle with a bail handle that came with a stove that had a deep well. Why they did away with deep wells, a handy feature in some stoves, I don’t know. Although the stove has long since gone the way of most old stoves, the pan lives on. I use it to sterilize jars, or to boil down the maple sap when I bring it in from the sugar house to finish off.

An eight-quart stainless steel kettle is another favorite. It too is used to “finish off” the sap. But I also use it to make winter soups from zucchini and cabbage to go in the freezer. It is also great for processing tomatoes, and for apple sauce. Filled to the top, thirty apples cook down to four quarts of sauce.

And I suppose I shouldn’t slight the faithful food mill and the two three-quart bowls into which I press the cooked vegetables and apples. All these are the essential staples of my preservation efforts.

The poet also sang the praises of: “…. brown horse-chestnuts, glossy new; And new-peeled sticks…. ”

Grandson Sammy was here in October, gathering the “glossy new” horse-chesnuts loosed from their prickly homes. Then he
sat down on the back steps and whittled a “new-peeled stick”
into a fanciful figure and incorporated the horse chestnuts into it.

“Shall I not crown them with immortal praise; Whom I have
loved… ?”

Rupert Brooke’s precedent of listing old loves will live on as long as people live and breathe – and love.

This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road. Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center. She spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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