Her pages are no longer pliable but rather stiff and discolored; many are rippled from spills. Separating from her binding, some of the pages still cling to remnants of glue, while others have come completely loose and have been stuffed in backwards, upside down or folded and randomly tucked inside.
Page upon page of faded handwritten recipes that have fallen into disuse from busy schedules and leaner menus. Each one possesses a certain tiredness from turning and testing.
Drips and smudges have formed a greasy coat on her cover.
Weathered and worn from nearly 40 years, her tabs are hardly legible. One for Meat, Game and Poultry; another reads Fish and Soup.
Still others: Entrees and Salads; Vegetables; Sauces, Salad Dressings, Etc.; Cakes and Pastries. The very last tab reads Sundries.
She has been a loyal friend, helping serve up Five-Layer Casserole, Mom's Meatloaf, Noodles with Browned Crumbs, Orange Glazed Ham and Pork Chop Loaf.
She has stood by through holidays with recipes for rice pudding and corn pudding, lime marshmallow salad, Swedish meatballs and spritz.
Square recipes, too: Hello Dollies, Cherry Dessert, Fudge Delights and Chocolate Bit Squares.
Her language shows her age with words like scant, oleo, lard, heavy skillet, fat side up, sift, reserve, double boiler, beat, par-boil, dice, cube and scald.
Just looking at her pathetic, tattered appearance brings back memories of home.
Taste buds recall spaghetti casserole, baked lima beans and baking powder biscuits.
She is regal in her disregarded state. Ancient yet honorable, she took care of hungry appetites and needy hearts with many a warm meal.
Time and time again, she beckoned the family round the table with a spread of hot, steaming dishes and sweet, savory treats. She used a culinary language that translated love from mother to son; father to daughter; wife to husband; and so on.
Her title quite simply describes her noble practice – her calling fulfilled: "Recipes."
A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place national and state awards in The National Federation of Press Women competitions. Most recently, Damon's writing took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 Competition. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2007 Paula Damon