Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Picking up the Eggs

"Go ahead, pick up the eggs", said my grandfather as we were making our way to the barn. It wasn't a very big one; no, just enough to house a dozen chicken and a dozen rabbits. I loved to be in charge of things around my maternal grandparents' little farm. I proclaimed myself the egg master and felt like it was my responsibility to make sure each freshly laid egg was put in the basket -my grandma, who we called Meme, would then sell them to nearby neighbors.

As a child, I was timid but I would always want to help, learn and try new things. "What's this for?" I asked Pepe, my grandfather, as I pointed at one of his many old tools hanging on the wall, right outside of the barn. "Be careful, if you touch this, you're gonna cut a finger off" Pepe would warn me - he had lost two fingers in a cement mixer before I was born. Intrepid and spirited, I would wait for him to head to his vegetable garden to start using his very old knife sharpening wheel - it once belonged to my great-grandfather. Navigating from one cool tool to another, I wished I knew how to master each one of them. 

More than the egg picking and the cutting-my-fingers-off-with-sharp-tools, my favorite moment of the day was early in the morning, when we would feed the chicken and the rabbits. Meme would boil some potatoes, mix them with hot water, bran and old bread. My task -that was my favorite part- would be to mash it all with my hands. A kid's delight, really! Is it gross looking? Check! Gooey? Check! Squishy? Check! Oh how I loved to squeeze that paste in my hands! "Bon c'est assez maintenant" ("that's enough now"), Meme would have to stop me, after I mashed the mixture into a puree, with the resemblance of a somewhat chunky oatmeal. 

Twenty and plus years later, I still distinctly remember all these smells, sounds and sights. I wish I could one more time, make my hands dirty in what was really a nasty mess. Meme left us a few months ago, she was 90 years old. Pepe now lives in a nursing home nearby Bouvesse, my village. I have been wanting to go back to the barn so bad lately. I want to reconnect with memories of my childhood, somewhat look for traces of me; These missing bits of myself that made me think: "hey let's check this out, I want to try this new thing, let's see how it turns out". 

The realities of life hit you at some point though. The monthly bills, health, career, etc. You kind of forget how to be nonchalant and daring. But really, there's nothing preventing us from stepping forward and do it! Whatever the "it" may be. I know I have started to slowly break that wall of seriousness in the writing of my cookbook, but there's still this last push, this last step that would completely, shall I say "set me free".

It's time for me to go pick up the eggs, play with sharp knives and get messy. On with it!


Will said...

That picture looks exactly like you today (only miniaturized). I look quite a bit different than the 7 year old version of me.

It's a tricky balancing between maintaining your adult responsibilities and keeping your mind open to wider exploration.

Laetitia said...

Yes it is indeed. We should always try not to forget what it was like to be a child. We can learn a lot from it I think. (I would really like to see a picture of you at the age of 7!)