The view from the window over my kitchen sink sometimes seems to set the boundaries for my days. I begin there, running water for coffee, feeding the kitties, cleaning up any leftover messes. And I close the day there, feeding the elderly kitty again, taking the last drink of water, swiping down the counter tops.
I’ve been standing at the sink a lot these past weeks, canning the fresh produce from our local farmers’ market. Strawberry jam, from the first fruits that herald the true arrival of summer. Red, thick, sweet — the taste that can transport me from the dead of winter to those first warm days in June. A pause then, before tart cherries appear, and I stand there pitting, pitting, pitting in anticipation of glimmering quarts of cherry pie filling — a pie in a jar. Leftover juice gets made into cherry jelly — ruby in the jar. And then August arrives with peppers and peaches, tomatoes and tomatillos, pickles and onions. The canner stays on the stove through chili sauce, pepper jelly, bread-and-butter pickles, tomatillo salsa and as many peaches I have jars for. Sometimes it feels like my feet are rooted to the spot at the sink.
The view, though — the view offers layers of a vision. The windowsill holds clutter — cleaning supplies handy and mementos from travels, my own and souvenirs brought by others. I think of people and places dear.
Looking up, I gaze through the glass. My house is strange in that the window over my sink looks into a glassed-in space. A passageway, really — I think it was originally an outdoor walkway from the garage to the back of the house, covered sometime later. In the time of pandemic, I’ve claimed it as another spot to sit. Paint over the awful paneling, some trim work a friend helped with, a glider to sit on and a valance of colorful curtains make it a really fun place. From the window, I smile at the transformation. I remember a pizza supper this summer — windows open, rain outside, masks at hand, laughter.
Beyond, through the wide-open windows to the outside, I can see the huge Rose of Sharon bush filling the corner of my garden (how do you actually trim those?). I remember the babysitter who became family and the row of Rose of Sharon shrubs that lined her driveway.
I see the garden surrounding my patio that has been the place for family gatherings, at either end of my long dining table there, during this summer of distancing while together. Our family gathered there every night of a 10-day visit from my daughter’s family. I remember a grandson in a highchair, home cooking, love.
That sentry spot at my sink fills my spirit. It is a place of concrete connection to the elements of life — food and water. Basic sustenance and the joy of a hobby that literally feeds my friends. It is a place of contemplation and remembrance as the view widens. It is a place of wide vision reaching outside and into the universe. It is a place that puts life into perspective, the large and the small of it, together.
Standing there, I’m reminded of a small book of poetry, Window Poems, by Wendell Berry. His window is unimpeded and looks widely into the distance, but his thoughts trace the rhythm of the seasons. They look to the future and honor the past.
The moments in time at my kitchen sink hold “what must be, joy and dread. . .end and beginning without end.” Past and future. Fresh produce and processed canned goods. Memory and hope.