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Saturday, November 08, 2014

The mourning of things passed.


I mourn the passing of the "classic" grandmothers, schooled in kitchens redolent with spices and culinary magic. Bradbury wrote of such in "Dandelion Wine". I have a treasure-trove: my grandmother's cookbooks AND her recipe file cards! I remember cookie-sheets filled with toasted pecans at Christmas-time. Cheese biscuits, fruit cakes, tiny mini-muffin fruitcakes. Humdingers. Crystalised grapefruit peel.

Summer had squash and onions, stewed tomatoes, boiled okra (a travesty, like eating a cold), an amazing fresh cold relish of diced tomatoes, green peppers, and onions in vinegar, outstanding with blackeyed peas! Fresh corn on the cob, wonderful corn OFF the cob! Fried chicken! FRESH BISCUITS! Winter was filled with mason jars full of the summer's bounty! And all, ALL prepared by my grandmother, and Louila, the wonderful black lady who helped her around the house.

I cannot see this being continued this generation. Women are taught to find fulfillment in a cubicle, filling forms and doing PowerPoint, rather than being the provider of miracles from garden and kitchen. Food comes from boxes, pouches and cans, now, pre-measured, pre-seasoned, virtually pre-digested. The government's tax levels require both husband and wife to work, yet they cannot get by beyond the basics. There will be no miraculous grandmothers ere long. Cereal for breakfast, Swanson for dinner, Michelle's Menu for school lunch.

No time. "Lovin' from the Oven" is canned biscuits.

I weep. I mourn.


Doom said...

Just live long enough. Between this, and that, the fool's gold we have been living on is going away. Grandma didn't do those things because she wanted to do them, initially. It was simple economics. She had to do them. After the yoke of duty became a treasured effort, you got what you got.

If what I am seeing is true, women will be divorcing feminism, and the yoke of too much... work and home. Either society and government breaks and women are forced home, or they simply realize the gig and go back home.

You suggest women have to work? Not so much. Their employment, as Vox has suggested, has filled the ranks of the working, watering down labor leverage by half. If they go home, as a majority, men will be able to afford a home wife and family through economic pressures from a smaller labor force. Another thing? With women at work, fewer children. That lack of a base of labor is causing the reality of border problems. Add that to the notion that too many kids are going to college, hoping for a job where they don't have to do any real work... cubicles, meetings, air conditioning, water cooler scuttlebutt... a continuation of childhood and school, really, just with a bigger allowance. There aren't enough to do the little jobs. There simply aren't.

It didn't happen overnight, and it won't be undone overnight. It might not even be done with the government as we know it in play. But it will happen. It is happening. While it is my will, it isn't in my power. I just noticed "gravity", I don't control it. I do prefer it, but...

Michael W said...

My paternal grandmother (the only one of my grandparents that I actually knew) was a fishing fanatic (as was her husband: a Master Carpenter). When my folks moved to Tottering-On-The-Brink in 1968, on the banks of the Colorado, you couldn't pry her away from the river's edge.

She also dipped snuff, could outshoot any male in the family (appropriate, as it was rumored her own mother shot and killed a man who accused her of committing adultery) and lived just three months shy of her 100th birthday.

Like the song said: "Texas Women is Texas Gold."

Unknown said...

I've often thought the same when looking at my generation. If not lack of time, it's been lack of interest killing cooking from scratch, gardening, sewing, ect. At the same time, I found myself growing more interested in the old way of doing things as I grew from young woman just starting out to mother. I've got a long way to go before I can pull off any "miracles from the garden and kitchen," as you said, but it's not outside the realm of possibility. Beyond that, I've started to see a lot in my generation showing interest in learning to make things by hand, with thread or yarn or fabric if not food, but interests and hobbies have a way of multiplying as we age. So I have hope.

Classic grandma's may become a rare thing, which is sad, but I doubt they'll ever go extinct.

The Aardvark said...

@Doom- For clarity I should have said "the cultural lie sez....".

"... a continuation of childhood and school, really, just with a bigger allowance." That is a treasure of clarity, Doom!
@Michael- Very cool. If the remaining Grans can pass on their secrets, if any listen, it will be a mackerel.
@Amanda- You are reclaiming your birthright with your cookery, raisin' th' young'uns, and your various craft abilities, not to mention your writing skills. You are doing it AND you can pass it on to a broader audience!