Don’t Worry, I Won’t Fall Into Any Seasonal Puns *Autumn tish* (Get it? Like a drum noise?)
I love fall.
What some call “Sweater Weather” is what I call “OMG I CAN BE A HUMAN AGAIN Weather”. Sure mine is less catchy, but it more accurately depicts how I feel about cooler temperatures. Like the crotchety child I am deep inside, I don’t like it when it’s too hot or too cold. Fall is just right.
Since Canadian Summer is so short (for those of you who are American, Canadian summer is roughly 25% shorter than yours…depending on the exchange rate), I usually spend my summers trying to suck the marrow out of every moment. Fall is the signal to my brain that I can calm the hell down and be lazy without feeling like I’m wasting precious moments of sunshine.
Lazy by the definition of some is doing nothing, lazy to me is doing nothing but small projects. This past weekend I picked up another such project. This past weekend I went home to spend some time with my folks and, as usually happens when Mum and I are in the same vicinity, thrifting happened.
At an auction sale of an antiques collector and horse buggy restorer, I picked up a box of vintage baking tins for around $10. The box also contained about 80 years worth of dirt, an old mop end, an even older mop end, white enamel tins I generously gave to my Mum (HI MUM), and a mystery item I will use to prank my colleague at some point if it still works.
Since I knew I’d be spending a portion of this evening making pumpkin-molasses-spice cookies for a potluck at work (Did I mention I love Fall?), I figured this evening would be a good time to tackle unpacking the box and cleaning those tins…it turns out- not so much a one-night operation.
First order of business was to toss out the garbage, which took all of two seconds before I started to pile the tins by the sink. Each tin was covered in so much dirt and dust, that I almost felt like I was exhuming the tins from their long and dirty slumber.
After much sneezing and grossed out noises, the tins were ready for washing.
Staying in and doing dishes while I bake cookies. Yeah, I’m the craziest party animal you know.
I knew from the get-go that this wasn’t going to be a necessarily FUN job, but I didn’t really anticipate how bone-crushing it would be.
I had the water hot enough that it caused me discomfort but didn’t start to scald off my skin, which is about 5 degrees less than the hot water my Mother uses (HI MOM) but I thought it would be good enough.
“It will take some elbow grease,” I thought “but this won’t take that long.”
AH AHA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.
Huh. That gif is surprisingly accurate.
Anyway, yes, Chris Farley, I WAS AN IDIOT.
Turns out I do not possess enough elbow grease to wash eight decades of grime away in one go.
I mean, look at what I was working with:
The above is one of the cleanest ones and the water in the sink? It is not that colour due to Instagram witchcraft or due to the lighting. It is that colour because that is what 40 years of grime looks like. I had to hand scrub the other 40 years off the pans myself.
The pan you see in the picture actually seemed to still have bread/cake/mystery loaf still stuck to the bottom which probably helped save the metal a bit. By the time I was finished scrub-a-dub-dubbing, it looked like this:
MUCH better, right?
I had to wonder though, how did all these pans fall into such a state of disrepair?
I pictured an old man, too busy to restoring gorgeous horse buggies to bother cleaning his pans, eating out of the loaf tin with a fork and then, when the tin was empty, piling it with the others. He has important work to do! He’d rather spend all night reupholstering that chaise he bought than spend 5 minutes washing some silly old tin.
But, maybe the man’s for whom the auction was held wasn’t the one responsible for those tins. Maybe he himself bought them at an estate sale or auction.
I thought about how they might have gotten to an estate sale.
Maybe a sad son/daughter couldn’t bear to clean them because they were a sad reminder of the loneliness their parent had felt after their death of a spouse. Maybe their mother/father always cooked meatloaf or zucchini loaf or something and froze it in the tins in case they needed something to bring to a party (or maybe they left the loaf uncooked and frozen and simply thawed it and cooked it when it was needed) and the one left behind had clung to that as a kind of reminder.
I pictured a spouse left to themselves after years of marriage with no desire to cook. Cooking for one after so many years can’t be pleasant at first. I pictured them shuffling to a freezer where they still had something that, in a sense, they could share with their spouse. It was the closest they would come to having someone cook for them again.
Tired bones stretch towards a frozen reminder of better times and they heat up the food and can pretend, even if just for a moment, that the one they loved isn’t really gone. If they listen closely, they can almost hear the other shuffling about in the other room, trying to sort out a few things while dinner cooks. Always speeding around trying to fit as much as they could in before the toll of the stove timer.
But then the timer on the stove beeps and they’re back to a house that feels too big and a meal they don’t have any real desire to eat, but it tastes like memories-so they do.
Their kids are grown and busy with their own families, moved away and though they visit, it’s hard because life has gotten so fast in the last few decades. It’s easy to hide what, logically, they know is a silly and sentimental eating regimen that can’t really be good for them on those few occasions the children and grandchildren do visit.
Maybe it isn’t until they’re gone to join their other half that one of the kids puts it together and it breaks them a little bit because they can’t understand it and they don’t know why their parent wouldn’t have trusted them with this or wouldn’t have asked for help. So the tins don’t ever get washed because the only reason they were ever emptied was the memories they held-there was never a sentimental reason to wash them-and when the son/daughter finds them, they hurt too much to look at and everything is being sold soon, so they get tossed in a box of half-junk and half-pain to be sold to someone who fancies a bargain and doesn’t have the sentimental strings to keep them from re-purposing perfectly good cookware.
Things only have whatever meaning we give them, but really, they’re just things.
This blog took an unexpected turn. I’m not really sure how to wrap this up but the song this unintentional fiction brings to mind is fairly apt, I think. Enjoy: Amanda Palmer, The Thing About Things.