Olde Wooden Spoon.

May 22, 2008
By Renee Ball, Auckland, ZZ

Wandering through the old old-house I see many things, many objects that are memoirs of my past. My hand brushes over a dust-drenched rug, a sooty potbelly fireplace. In the kitchen now, so faded. There is the ladle, and mother’s wooden spoon. The room is bathed in a summer evening light, almost like… golden syrup? Yes that’s it, syrup. In my minds eye I wander through days I thought long forgotten.

I remember waking up on frosty washing-day mornings, groggy, cozy in my woolen blankets. Mother was up, I could tell without opening my eyes because fire smells, and porridge smells filled the little room. Creeping… creeping, moving ever so slowly I would sneak outside, I always loved to feel the suns first smile on my face, to run through the white crackling grass the icy coldness seeping through my bed-socks. But for some reason Mother always knew, she knew. “Thomas! Before you go outside you must tend the fire” or “my boy, where are you of to before you have even made your bed!” or some such thing.

What a drag it is on washing day.

Everyday I help father and my brothers with the farm. What fun! To run, and to build, and to search! To fix, to mend, to cut down trees! Oh what a joy to be a boy on a farm!

But now it’s washing day.

I must help Mother, she has no daughters to help her, so she says she must use me. I’m not made for such horrid things as rinsing socks and starching sheets! I tell you. It is no job for a boy like me.

But I have a little secret, a secret that only I know. Not even Richard knows my secret on washing day. There is time, in between the scrubbing and the starching where mother asks me to bring her a cup of water. And at that time Father and all the brothers are out in the fields, bringing in the cattle. Ha! If only they knew! If they knew how I take the biggest spoon I can find (Mothers wooden spoon) and scoop it into the golden syrup. I take the MOST syrup possible, all that I can fit onto that wooden spoon as I sit on the little wooden stool with three legs, and lick, and lick, and LICK! Imagine what they’d say if they KNEW!

What a treat it is to have a secret on a horrid day like washing day.

Now it is the evening, time for dinner and after games of chess and stories and warm cozies by the fire. Mother darns our socks and Father tells us of the time He and Mother went on a long, long, long sea-voyage. “ We traveled through winter, just to start a new live here in New Zealand. What a Journey! T he sea’s were ferocious! We rocked to and fro, to and fro. Lighting struck the sea, and turned it a maze of colours, thunder boomed and banged, and your poor mother felt quite dreadful.”
“I couldn’t even see to mend a handkerchief.” she sighed “There simply was no light!”
I see a glint in father’s eyes, he is laughing at mother! (For he knew that was THE LEAST of her troubles on that voyage!)
“Oh the cheek of you!” She cried turning quite red. (She doesn’t like Father teasing her)

Oh the cheek of me! That is what I think.

Father laughs once more “My dear, will a song make you feel better?” he takes out his violin. First he picks out a few notes then, slowly, a soft melody begins to fold through the room. Mother looks quite relieved. Richard and Sam are playing chess, Eric is watching them. I watch them all. A smile twitches at the corner of my mouth…I grin.

Maybe washing-day isn’t SO terrible after all.

This memory, these memories, do not belong to me though, you see I am a child, not of colonial New Zealand but of the 20th century. A child of cupcakes, light up shoes, Barbie-dolls and soccer balls. I do not know what it is to spend an entire day! Washing laundry. (I would assume it was quite horrid) All I can do is imagine. As I wander through the replica home of a time long gone, I stop and remember, imagine the little stories. The personalities, the tiny things you do not notice if you rush through, caught up in the worries of today. To read between the lines of the ages is a treasure long- forgotten. It is to be a pebble, yet realize you are part of what makes a mountain.

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