I zoomed in on the house on Egremont Plain Road on Google Earth Saturday morning. The street level image taken from a camera mounted on top of a car driving by didn’t reveal the same house that I have in pictures. The house actually looked more like it probably did a couple of generations before we lived in it. We knew it had the original dark brown and weathered cedar shakes under the wavy bottom asbestos shingles that we painted Puritan Blue, which was really a green. Ten month old Elliott and I were the only ones up so far; his mom and teenage brother and sister were still asleep. I had one arm around him as he sat in my lap clawing at the keys on the laptop set out on the kitchen table as I compared the trees to how I remembered them. We had bought the house from my great aunt with Gram and Grandpa already living on the second floor since before I was born. My grandfather was 50 when I was born and I was 50 when Elliott was born earlier this year.
I zoom in closer, and as the porch windows become more pixilated the gray and dusty rose slate stones of the walkway and the dark, presumably chestnut steps become clearer. Once more I zoom in through the porch screen door and I focus on the interior door. I turn the brass knob to the right and it opens. I think I hear Bob Steele on the radio upstairs. I sniff the air and it is definitely bacon this morning. Elliott riding on my forearm and I pass through and close the door. The flight of rich chestnuts stairs are a straight shot up. We ascend.
At the top, Gram says, “Good morning, hon; we were beginning to wonder if you’d be coming up.”
“Morning John,” says Grandpa, “who do you have here?”
“This is Elliott.”
“He’s a fine looking boy,” he says rubbing his big hand back and forth across his head of reddish hair.
As I sit, Gram puts a small narrow glass of orange juice down in front of me and asks if I want coffee.
I slowly look around the room as Gram lights the gas under the frying pan and Grandpa sits again at his place at the table. Everything appears to be the same; the table is same metal with a wood grain finish. I run my fingers along the double curve of the red edge. The crystal spoon holder is on the table full of teaspoons. The butter dish is covered but I can see that half the butter is gone; Grandpa’s already had several pieces of rye toast with butter. To my left the low winter sun is coming through window that looks over to Cricket and Cookie’s house. In front of it is the chrome-framed cart with the red rectangular clock radio with its gold Roman numerals and hands. Bob Steele with his clear deep voice, out of Hartford, is indeed on the radio although I don’t pay attention to what he’s saying. The toaster is on a small white cabinet with a Formica surface in the corner. The polished bottoms of RevereWare pots hang on the wall above. The compact four burner gas stove is next to it to the right. Gram is cracking open two eggs into the Revere frying pan. There is plenty of butter melted in the pan so they don’t stick and the vapor of the butter will steam cook the yokes just right. Grandpa is making clucking sounds to entertain Elliott.
The kitchen has always been bright partly because of the yellow paint but also because of the window next to the stove looking out over the backyard to the south. To the right of the window is the Courrier and Ives calendar with its wintry scene. To the right of it, on the west wall of the kitchen is still the large white porcelain sink unit. Dirty dishes have never piled up on that sink. Above is the white metal cupboard where all the clean dishes go. I turn around to see the door we entered through and to the wall behind me. The kitchen had originally been a bedroom and the small pantry with shelves in it had once been its closet. I marvel that this kitchen, my kitchen of kitchens was actually just a makeshift kitchen. On the wall between the door and the opening to the “pantry” are horizontal pencil lines with names and dates and heights. My cousin Randall’s is still right up there with Grandpa’s as the tallest. I get up and with my arm around Elliott’s middle we go to examine the dates and heights. I say to him, “Look where daddy was in 1968 and look at how tall he was in 1975. You’ll be that big someday too!”
“Would Elliott like some instant oatmeal with cinnamon and apple?” Gram asks.
“We can try it,” I say.
“It’s on the shelf in there.”
I reach up and get down the box.
The refrigerator is to the right of the little pantry so that its door is flush with it. To the right of it is the doorway that opens in to the living room. There is no door hanging there either. Looking back at the east wall again there is a small wooden shelf unit painted white with fancy teacups hanging from hooks screwed in to the bottom of the shelves. The shelves also have cups sitting on them as well as small porcelain dog figures. Underneath this shelf is where the card table would be set up for us kids at Thanksgiving.
Gram slides the butter basted eggs on to my plate and then adds four slices of bacon. Grandpa takes charge of buttering my toast because he doesn’t think I put enough on. Grandpa wouldn’t give much credence to my concern over the excess butter and besides I can’t imagine that today it would matter so I accept the toast. Gram is already frying a couple of more eggs for Grandpa; mine looked so good he wanted a couple more. Gram carefully pours hot water into Elliott’s cereal bowl that has the Quaker Instant Oatmeal packet emptied into it. I grab a teaspoon from the crystal spoon holder and stir the oatmeal.
“He’s a good-looking boy,” Grandpa affirms with lots of vigor in his deep strong voice, “a lot like you at his age.”
“I would have thought today would be a deviled ham and eggs day or maybe even buckwheat pancakes,” I comment.
“Grandpa finished off the deviled ham yesterday and he felt like eggs this morning so the pancakes will be tomorrow.”
My eyes fall to the thick cream colored restaurant style plate in front of my grandfather. I’d never thought to ask where it came from and still don’t. It’s obviously his favorite. He breaks the basted egg with the heavily buttered rye toast.
I don’t see the bag but I ask, “Is Pittsfield Rye Bakery is still around?”
“They’re the best; they’ll always be around,” he responds.
Mid-week Daylight Run
2 years ago