Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Erlene' Box

I love going to auctions especially estate auctions. All kinds of treasures lie waiting in grubby boxes covered in dust which have  been hastily thrown together as the family cleans out cupboard after cupboard, the piles of a past life growing larger with each room that is cleared out. The anticipation hangs thickly in the air as the crowd gathers and presses into the tiny, friends strangers all gathered together to distribute the last physical traces of a life to the highest bidder

You can learn so much about that life when the boxes begin to be auctioned off without having met that person..what decades they lived through ..what their hobbies were...what they collected  lots of and held onto, in case they ran out ...what their furniture was like and even what  their favourite colours were...we  catch glimpses of times gone by as we recognise  items from our past, things we remember seeing in granny's house or even in our own home growing up. We begin to feel connected to these strangers as memories are stirred and feelings begin to surface.We are drawn to this need to own some of this stuff even if it is a poor attempt to buy a memory from a time long ago because of how it made us feel. I have often found myself wanting to know their stories...where they came from what their lives were like..who they really were...sometimes we get to meet the family and get tiny glimpses of their loved ones lives...sometimes all we are left with is our imagination.

I  buy and sell stuff from these auctions as a way to make a little extra pocket money to buy the things I really love. Old kitchen stuff is my thing. If only these items could speak what wonderful tales they could tell from a time gone by. One of my favourite things to buy is old recipe books both printed and handwritten.  The ones lovingly handwritten, all covered with splashes and splotches of past cooking adventures... are a sure sign of a dedicated housewife toiling away at the stove. These are some of my favourites.In these books lies a window to a past culinary journey that our mothers, grandmothers and sometimes even great grandmothers took and though many years may separate our experiences, some things stay the same. I love the fact that I can pick up these recipes,  make them and it instantly connects me back to that time.These recipes speak about a time when life was quite altogether different yet food was still a good communicator of how time was spent in the kitchen

As the auction was drawing to a close, as happens at these events, large amounts of unwanted and often less desirable items, get job-lotted together for very little money.  The auctioneer is more than happy for you to take this load off his hands.I happened to notice a large box all taped up with the words RECIPES written across it in large black letters.It was as if it was calling out to be by name and saying take me home with you.How could I just walk away and let it go to the dump. We loaded up the van with all our new found treasures and headed home. We did come home with some lovely goodies to sell and the thrift store benefited greatly from items we had no vision for. As I opened this box of recipes I was overwhelmed with a sense of connection to this woman who I did not know.  I think we could have been good friends.We seemed to love to bake similar things. As I started going through them...some handwritten on scraps of paper....some cut out from newspapers with added scribblings on them....some having the names of the person who had given the recipe...I recognised that those of us who love to cook and bake all have a box like Erlene's whether it's in a drawer or in a pile somewhere waiting for us to work through.These are recipes that speak to us or hold our attention for a moment or connect us to a memory of a meal shared and they are part of our story.

Whether or not we ever get to try these recipes out is not the point.  In their own way, they are helping us preserve a little piece of history and are telling our story of a particular time and we lived and what brought us together around the table .We are not only giving little pieces of ourselves when we make those recipes but we are leaving a written and carefully cut out record on bits of paper that when pieced together tell a  much bigger story .

1 comment:

  1. Luv this! It is soooooo you in a nutshell. I am so happy that you can share this passion with the world. Thanks for a lovely read this morning.
    I would like another helping please! :)