One Small Moment Contains An Entire Afternoon

My granddaughters offer me endless delight, but I often worry that I won’t be able to remember many of the happy moments we spend together. Our last encounter involved an afternoon of cooking. The girls came up with the menu: homemade pasta; homemade pasta sauce with beef; and apple pie. I added roasted broccoli to round out their selections.

None of us had made pasta before, but Amelie, who is eight, had seen it prepared on TV, and assured me, “It’s really easy.” As for the apple pie: they had prepared one with their cousin Hannah for Thanksgiving, and again, Amelie assured me that she remembered every single step and ingredient.

While it rained and drizzled and misted outside, we stayed cozily in their kitchen, rounding up ingredients, peeling and cutting apples, sautéing onions, browning meat, measuring flour and cracking eggs. The girls, as they demonstrated, had become experts at peeling apples. And Amelie, who is now allowed to use the “pink knife,”(which is serrated, so safer) meticulously cut the apple quarters into thirds. Then measured out all the pie ingredients, adding a bit more sugar here, a pinch more cinnamon there, all with perfect aplomb.

Poppy, who had taken a back seat to Amelie with the pie, decided we should prepare a salad, which would be her domain. After I peeled the pears, she painstakingly quartered them, quartered each quarter, then proceeded to cut those slices into slivers. I got great pleasure watching her tiny graceful fingers as she worked. Once she had transferred the pear bits and pieces into the salad bowl, she cut up two avocados, then spun and tore the salad leaves.

I love to cook and I adore my granddaughters, so what more perfect afternoon could I imagine–several hours filled with one delight after another? But would this afternoon still be with me in ten years?

Part of Amelie’s apple pie recipe involved precooking the filling. After she had dumped the apple slices and their accompanying flavorings into a pot, she placed a stool in front of the stove. Then, holding a wooden spoon, she began tossing the filling back and forth in the pot, right to left, top to bottom, swish, swish, swish, her wrist in constant motion, digging to the bottom of the filling, pushing it from side to side, wrists flicking back and forth.

Watching her, full of confidence and purpose, I knew that I would never forget Amelie’s hands pre-cooking the pie filling. At the same time, I also understood how that small moment would contain for me the entire rich afternoon with my two granddaughters: a rainy day, their kitchen, Amelie’s apple pie, Poppy’s salad with pears, the three of us preparing a meal we would enjoy together as a family, compliments flying back and forth across the dining room table.

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