My mother, Rose, spent a lot of time at her kitchen sink, and looking out that window every day. That kitchen window framed her daily activities, and was a way to keep an eagle eye on her brood. It was a view to the goings on in our rural neighborhood. I often think of the movie, Rear Window, with Jimmy Stewart—so much going on out our windows.
Before my parents remodeled Mom’s kitchen, the window faced west. She’d look at the sunsets with a longing—a longing for her loved ones in California. The ones she’d left behind to start a life with my Dad in rural Iowa. Later on, when the kitchen was remodeled, it faced south. That gave mom an unobstructed view to the dusty crossroad beyond our farmstead. Through this window she could see, more clearly, the passing traffic–cars, grain trucks, school busses, tractors, pickup trucks, station wagons, hay wagons, stock trailers, and teenage boys whose loud mufflers and souped-up engines sounded like they were trying to break the sound barrier. Horns would honk and mom would say, “There goes the McClure’s or that Larry better slow down or he’s going to break his neck!”
Through this window she could see her large garden/truck patch with its neatly planted rows of corn, beans, tomatoes, cabbage, peas, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, and potatoes. Bordering the perimeter were colorful marigolds she planted to keep the bugs away.
Mom would admire the clothesline where our laundry stretched out for all to see. It was a matter of pride in not only the way clothes were hung, but how white mom could get those sheets and tidy whities–a competition of sorts between housewives of the day!
Another enjoyable pastime for mom was watching birds while they built their nests in the maple tree just outside the kitchen window–marveling at their beauty and ingenuity. She would often quote a familiar Bible verse, Matthew 6:25-34… “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …”
She would watch us play in the yard though her kitchen window, and send a stern warning for us to behave and stay away from the road. My brother, Stan, and later Phillip spent hours in a sand pile under the kitchen window, where they built and destroyed many a bridge and fort. As a girl, I could never grasp the reasoning behind their motivation for blowing-up things.
That kitchen window gave life to starter plants—everything from sweet potato vines, to avocado seeds sprouted and snaked their way along the sun bleached window sill. When money was tight, which was often, mom decorated in ways she could afford to satisfy her desire to make things look brighter. Bottles of colored water also graced the windows ledge, and caught the sunlight at different times of the day.
So, this entry is dedicated to all the kitchen windows which frame our memories… then and now.