Memories of the “old cook stove”

As I look back to my childhood memories, there is a road. A long dirt road that leads to one of the first homestead’s built in Lafontaine Ontario. A long dead-end dirt road. This homestead is where I was born and raised as a child. The youngest of five. Our life at the end of a dead end road is a sad memory, for this is where life was safe and simple.

Looking out my window now, out over the snow covered tree’s. It looks as though the forest is sleeping. Not a bird or a squirrel in sight. It is cold. But right at this moment it is quiet. And when life gets complicated or just overwhelming I welcome the solace like an old friend, one who sits and listens. So I can think of simpler times which right at this moment my thoughts are back to our old farm house, and our beloved “old cook stove”.

I have so many good memories, but for some reason at this moment I will remember our cook stove. Everything in our lives back then revolved around it. My mother for one thing. For she was the one who filled our bellies with three meals a day including a desert that followed every supper. Our warmth, oh I can still remember how cold our big old farmhouse was back then. We would all wrap in blankets and get as close as we could to the old McClary stove. How I miss our beautiful old farmhouse, and the cook stove that worked so hard to try to keep it warm. The house still stands today, but sad and empty. By far not be-fitting for habitation. Its remains are weak and decrepit. Such a shame to see a house that stood so strong, and held so many memories be forgotten about and left to fall.

Yes times were simple back then, and while living in the moment which at the time seemed like such a passive existence for all of us. Did we take for granted our safe haven, our good food, our loving parents, and our warmth? Yes, I believe we did. But the memories are vivid and consoling to each of us. And time just slips away.

I remember my father coming home from work and taking out a piece of wax paper from his lunchbox (my mom wrapped everything in wax paper)He would crumple it into a ball. We all knew what would come next. He would rub the wax paper vigorously on top of the feverous cast iron stove to clean a spot where he would then slice up potatoes and cook them with salt and pepper. This was a treat. And even more so, sliced apples. How could something so simple be so wonderful, tasty and comforting? Waiting by the old cook stove for our potatoes to be ready. How simply exciting.

Every winter my mom would get out the old box of woolen hats and mittens. Ones that she lovingly knit for each of us five kids. I remember playing outside all day long and only coming in the house to get a replacement pair of mitts because mine were compacted with snow. By night, all our mittens hung by the old cook stove to dry on a line that hung by the stove that my dad had strung up. They would all be dry and toasty warm by morning.

I remember the smell of porridge. My dad would cook a big pot of oats and brown sugar on the cook stove. I remember him waking us up to have breakfast. Reminiscing about this now I’m thinking he was just happy to make us this porridge. Just as he was his potato slices or apples. Because really, this is all I remember my dad ever cooking. My mother was the cook. So now this memory saddens me. To think of my quiet and kind father making porridge. Anxious to feed his children something warm and wholesome, and actually waking us up to enjoy watching us eat this bounty he made for us, with love.

I remember how the wind would howl, just like the wolves that stood beyond the potato fields, along the tree line. They never did come close to us as we played, but they watched us. My mother would warn us not to go to far for the wolves that lurked about. But the winds sure did howl. Winter’s were rough along that long dirt road, and many of times we would be snowed in. We’ve seen winters that the snow reached clear up to the telephone wires. My mother wouldn’t send us to school because she thought it was too cold, or too much snow. Thinking about it now, I think she just loved having us home. I remember being kept home from school. Mom and Dad made sugar donuts on the old cook stove. Now this was even a bigger treat. We didn’t have Tim Horton’s back then and really “who knew how to make donuts”? Seriously I thought I was the luckiest kid in the world!

Yes, our beautiful work horse of a cook stove. Never did it fail us. It cooked many loaves of bread, uncountable turkey dinners, perfect sliced potatoes, sweet sliced apples, and of course my dad’s loving porridge. Our cook stove kept us all close in many ways, and would warm us as far as she could throw her heat. We never complained. I wonder where that old cook stove is today? Maybe long gone, or maybe its warming someone’s old cabin or shop.

Where ever she is, the memory of our old cook stove has branded itself in our hearts as though she had a blazing cast iron soul. One that can still throw heat (in memories) and warms us to this very day.

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