Eggs and Grease

May 1942: It’s spring, and my university year is over. I’m heading for my Calgary home. From there it’s out to the farm, where I was born and raised. I love that place, the land, the life, the beauty of the prairies.

I feel very adult. Dad’s having trouble getting help this year, so I volunteered. My help can’t be described as skilled, either in housekeeping or as a tractor driver, but it’s better than no help. This year he needs someone to drive the tractor, while he sits on the machinery being pulled, and operates it.

This is a wonderful summer job and I’ll remember it forever. Things are different now. Both Mom and Dad are treating me more like a grown-up.  

September 1942: The months have flown by. I’m on the train heading for Edmonton. This summer’s been so different, and so enjoyable. I’ve changed. Will my university friends feel this? What will I tell them when we meet? I know! The story about the eggs and the grease . . .

When I reach the farm in the spring, the air is warm, and the days long. Surveying the old familiar kitchen, I decide to make a few changes. Moving the table near the windows, I then adorn it with a vase of prairie wild flowers. The interior of the kitchen cupboard is the same as when I was a child. There are the familiar coffee tins, one for eggs, and one for bacon grease. Mom always has the eggs in the first tin, and the grease in the second one. That doesn’t strike me as the most convenient order, so I switch them – grease first, eggs second. These few changes somehow transform the old kitchen into my domain.

We go to Calgary every weekend. Then comes a week when Dad does not need me to drive the tractor. Mom decides to spell me off, leaves me in the city, and goes to the farm with Dad. The first time she makes breakfast, she reaches into the first can for eggs, and gets a handful of grease! Amused, she wipes it off, and switches the cans back to what she considers the proper order.

Back in Calgary that weekend, she teases me about my changes, and tells me the cans are now back where they should be. When Dad and I return to the farm, all goes well until I start to make breakfast. Habit takes over. In a hurry to begin cooking, I reach to the back can for eggs, and find myself with a handful of grease. Shaking my head and laughing, I finish making breakfast and forget all about the mishap.

Through the summer, this messy business is repeated every time Mom and I change places. Neither of us seems able to remember to look before we reach. Oddly enough, this ridiculous mistake creates a sympathetic, understanding feeling which we both treasure. Now we are adult to adult, as well as parent to child.

It takes a while before my parents and I realize that we have entered new territory. I am excited by this glimpse of the future. In the years ahead I will continue to mature, and treasure my adult relationship with my parents. The eggs and grease story will keep reminding me that differences and changes enrich relationships, rather than threatening them.


Filed under Prairie Childhood

8 Responses to Eggs and Grease

  1. Leone Jobson

    Delightful, Marj. I’m having some similar experiences now that I’m back in the kitchen. Dave did a great job when I was spending so much time in St. Albert but he’s glad to have “retired.”

    • Marjorie

      Very pleased that you enjoyed it, Leone. I enjoyed writing it! The memories are so warm and close to my heart.

  2. Judith

    What a nice story! How many university students nowadays go home to help on the farm during their summer???

    • Marjorie

      Don’t know, Judith – but if any of those students come from a farm, it could be more than you expect. The problem comes when the education one is pursuing favours summer work that adds practical knowledge to their scholastic studies. That too is important. I still believe that particular summer new learning of great value, and reinforced my already developed love of the land.

  3. Brenda Wallace

    How fun to remember those early years on the farm! With little effort I can recall the sights and sounds of the harvest- light filtering through floating dust and insects busily chomping in the standing grain. Good morning, dear friend.

    • Marjorie

      Brenda – I had forgotten that you have a farm background. That would help you connect with Eggs and Grease, alright. When I look back now, that particular summer was a good stepping stone towards maturity – and a summer I loved. One for two!

  4. Funny and endearing. You evoke precious memories of my mother, who in the same situation would laugh, but adapt rather than put the grease where I could make the same mistake. I am sure a lesson unlearned resides somewhere in there and I should give the matter deep thought!

    • Marjorie

      Laurna – Don’t spend too much time in deep thought about this story! It is always a success if my writing brings up memories for my readers, especially “precious memories.” As the story indicates, that summer was when my adult relationship with my mother rose to the surface. It was enjoyed by both of us for many, many years.