Word Count 419
The Comforting Pot
by G. Ackman
Her first waking thought was one that brought a smile to her wrinkled face – “the kids are coming today.” She sprang out of bed as much as her 89 year old body would allow and started on the preparations. By mid-afternoon, the furniture gleamed from a fresh application of lemon oil and a just baked pie fragranced the house with cinnamon, nutmeg, and apples. Now to make dinner. Chicken and dumplings. Adam’s favorite. She couldn’t wait to see all the kids. Adam and his wife, of course. The three grandchildren – let’s see, the oldest, Cadin, must be nearly thirty now. And he had two babies of his own. Her great-grandchildren. She was so lucky to get to see them. They were only toddlers and wouldn’t remember her, but seeing those sweet faces and hearing their laughter would be such a gift. Most days are quiet and solitary. Today, the table would be full of laughter, talk, and food. She sighed contentedly.
Her gnarled hands reached for the heavy, well-used cast iron pot, so well-seasoned that she could see her reflection in its ebony surface. It had been her grandmother’s and then hers (her own mother had been neither a sentimentalist nor a make-it-from-scratch kind of person). She hoped that someone in the family would cherish it like she does. Doug had always said that the pot itself added a secret ingredient to every dish. And she knew what that secret was – it was a special blend of tradition, family, and love. Today’s dish would be no different. She set to work cutting up chicken and sautéing it in a savory blend of garlic and onion, blending flour, baking powder, sugar, and milk for her dumplings, and making a big pitcher of fresh iced tea. Finally, the table was set, the chicken and dumplings were simmering joyfully on the stove, and the apple pie waited with a welcoming smile. She sat down in the chair by the window so she could see them drive in, anticipation adding a sheen to her eyes.
Later, she rinsed her single bowl in the sink and took the rest of the chicken and dumplings out to the well-fed wildlife in the woods behind the house. She straightened the kitchen, covered the untouched apple pie with a dish towel, and turned out the light. As she got into bed, hope covered her with its blanket of warmth as she said to herself, “the kids are coming tomorrow. I should make a pot of vegetable soup.”