Saturday, July 2, 2016

Day 2

Growing up Saturday nights meant two things at my house: baked beans and A Prairie Home Companion.  There are only a few things that make me nostalgic for my childhood - the scent of holiday balsam, a certain angle of sunlight through autumn leaves, the taste of baked beans and the sound of Garrison Keillor's voice.

I was an anomaly as a teenager  Nearly every one of my friends had parents who where divorced.  That my family sat down to dinner together every night, even on the weekends, was something that was noted and commented on.  My brother and I were home for dinner every night by 6:00pm - except Sundays because Sundays were "every man for himself..." (and it was written as such on the weekly menu my mum posted on the fridge every Sunday night).  This of course really meant, it's the night we eat all of the leftovers from the prior six nights of the week.  Which was okay because, those other six nights - the food was good. 

Each night of the week was a different meal, but Saturday night was always baked beans; sometimes with hot dogs, or cornbread, or brown bread, nearly always coleslaw.  I can remember the sound of the cabbage, carrots and onions being crunched through the hand crank grinder that attached to our counter top.   I remember the light reflecting off the old dented penny that my mother used to brace the screw vice that held the grinder tight to the counter's edge.  

I remember the scent of honey as it was squeezed onto warm cornbread.  I recall the snap of hot dog skin as I cut them up to mix into my beans and the the sweet contrast of brown bread with creamy melted butter.  And always that voice.  That steady, breathy, voice that accompanied the preparation and serving of our Saturday night meal. I remember singing along with the Powder Milk Biscuit song and how when they started taking the show on the road we swore we'd go, and we'd find some creative message to be shared on air during the intermission...

I never did make it to a show.  And my family is now scattered.  My parents joined the statistical numbers of the divorced nearly a decade ago and my brother lives in Alaska.  Try as I might I don't remember the last meal we all had together.  

Tonight, I'm listening to Garrison Keillor's last show with my cat while eating homemade quiche instead of baked beans, and sipping chardonnay.  I keep telling Miss Pickles, she's the cat, how maybe part of the reason I love to tell stories is at least in part due to growing up listening to this man, that I used to write scripts for my own radio shows.

She rolls over and blinks at me...

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