For the first time in my life, I have a window over my kitchen sink.
First time as an adult, I should say. When I was a kid, Mom had one over hers, but I guess I considered that her domain. I remember her standing there in the summer when the window was open, sometimes doing dishes, sometimes not, talking with the neighbor next door. Funny, I don’t remember her going over to the neighbor’s house much, just standing at that window and passing the time of day.
It was at that same window, in the middle of the night, that my mother watched a tornado roar over our house, arriving almost without warning so that no one had time to head for the tornado shelter in the basement. Unnerving for Mom, I’m sure. My two sisters and I, oblivious in our beds upstairs, slept through it.
I also remember a bottle of red One-a-Day vitamins sitting on the sill of that window, looking too much like candy for a little kid to ignore. And so, one afternoon when Mom was out of sight, I scootched a kitchen chair across the floor, climbed up onto the edge of the sink, and helped myself to that bottle of goodies. I popped a few in my mouth, crunched down with eager expectancy–and gagged. Horrible tasting things, nothing like the cherry flavor their color had promised. I erased the taste with hastily procured graham crackers–and for years after, wasn’t able to eat a graham cracker without also tasting those vitamins. I don’t think Mom ever knew.
Eventually, one corner of that sill held a two-inch yellow ceramic square with the imprint of a hand in the center, palm up. Written around the circumference were the words “Monica, park your gum here.” Mom had made it in a ceramics class, along with two others for my sisters. Kay’s occupied the other end of window sill, and I guess Denise had to find a spot elsewhere.
I can’t believe we actually saved gum. My grandmother once showed me how to stretch it out, sprinkle a little sugar and cloves in the center, pop it back into my mouth and enjoy fresh flavor. One time I saved a piece of gum given to me by a boy I had a crush on, and I chewed it day after day until it literally crumbled apart from overuse. Bet you didn’t know gum would do that. I was crushed. I had hoped to keep that token from him forever.
That little gum stand followed me when I got married and left home, but I didn’t have a kitchen window sill to set it on, not in my first house and not in any house since then. Even now that I finally have a kitchen window again, there’s no sill. And somewhere along the way, I lost that little childhood memento.
It was nearly three years ago that we moved into this house. We thought what sold us was the fireplace in the sunken living room. I think, subliminally, it was the window over the kitchen sink. My first ever kitchen-sink window since I was a kid.
It’s a south-facing window, so sun pours through it during the day and moonlight at night. The sky wears patches of color from both sunrise and sunset, and fat clouds pass by along with V-shaped flocks of geese and songbirds on the wing.
I can see our bird feeders, the tree where the suet cage hangs, and a portion of our deck. Squirrels scramble their way up an iced railing in the winter, and in any season they sit in humpy-backed stillness, staring at me through the window if I’ve forgotten to put out peanuts. Starlings pace back and forth beneath the suet, waiting for pieces to drop from their foraging partners above; bright red cardinals flash in and out, mourning doves fall asleep in the middle of the platform feeder, squirrels hang by their back legs as they gorge on sunflower seeds. (We’re equal-opportunity food distributors, as you can tell.)
I notice neighbors going to and from work, or to and from school in the winter. In the spring I track the progress of the leaves budding out on the trees and then color phasing as they mature. So many shades of green! In the summer, I watch the progress of my flower garden, and laugh aloud as robins in the bird bath water that garden with their exuberant splashings.
Neighbors aren’t close enough to talk to, and no tornados roar overhead. But that late-arriving kitchen-sink window is one of my life’s simple pleasures. The bits of life and nature visible through that glass spark many a prayer, and I feel contentment rise within me like a tide.