When I was a child, my grandmother always talked about how glad she was that there was a window over her kitchen sink. She lived in a big old farmhouse and the window looked over the back yard, with the sugarhouse and the chicken coop.
I never understood what the big deal was. Nothing happened in the sugarhouse, except during early spring when the sap was being boiled down, and who wants to look at chickens?
Now that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, tending caramel while it burbles on the stove or stirring chocolate for long periods, to temper it, I finally understand what my grandmother saw there.
Looking out a window, and letting your mind wander, near and far, helps pass the time spent doing the most prosaic chores. My grandmother didn’t just see chickens scratching and empty farm buildings.
She saw her grandchildren playing and, maybe in her mind’s eye, she remembered her own children out there. She lost a daughter, at age 12, so maybe she remembered Ruth swinging on the gate, and the boys on the ponies.
Maybe she remembered her own youth, on a farm not far away, and in her memories moved from the farm kitchen, doing dishes and baking bread, back to tree climbing and rambling through the orchards.
This is the view I’m fortunate to have outside my kitchen window, to occupy my eyes and mind while I make candy.
Since candy-making season, for me, extends from fall to spring, I can watch the seasons change outside this window. In the fall, I watch the leaves turn on the trees across the bay and see, and hear, the Canada geese and snow geese as they spend a few raucous weeks getting ready to head south. Then I think about the time when I’ll fly south and visit my mom and friends, and escape the North Country winter for a little while. It’ll still be here when I get back!
Before too long, I’ll be watching ice fishermen instead of geese and reminding myself that, if one goes through the ice, I should call 911 and absolutely should not run out on the ice to try and help! I’ll wonder what makes those fishermen tick—what do they think about while they sit out there waiting for a bite? Why are they there? Do they need the money so badly that it’s worth catching fish in the cold?? Or are they out there daydreaming, while I’m in my warm kitchen daydreaming?
And, in a few months, I’ll catch my first glimpse of a robin outside this window. I’ll see those geese on their return flight and think about the cycles of seasons, days past and future, what tomorrow and this season will bring. I’ll look forward to summer, when family and friends gather here at the lake, and I’ll study the landscape for the first signs of growth, re-birth, in my gardens.
It’s not just a window to outdoors, although the outdoors is well worth viewing in its own right. My window is a trigger for my memory and my imagination, just as it was for my grandmother and no doubt her grandmother before her.
When I was a girl, I looked out the window. It just took me a while to see.