The harder the work, the better the meal, the more appreciated the seat at the dinner table.
Breakfast after an early morning spent in the milking parlor always tasted better than anything, especially on chilly days. A stack of pancakes with fresh creamy butter and real maple syrup, the first-run syrup of the season, was like finding a little piece of heaven.
Who could even describe the deliciousness of leftover potatoes fried crisply with thick slices of bacon and fresh, chopped onion? It beats anything gourmet in my estimation.
For lunch, my great-grandpa Charlie loved fresh tomatoes straight from the garden, sliced thick. He taught me that if the tomato was still warm from the sunshine, it was all the better. He loved to pour vinegar over them, so we knew to place the vinegar cruet on the table near his favorite spot. He loved being able to enjoy his lunch while looking out the window. For dessert, he would sprinkle spoon after spoon of sugar over those same sliced tomatoes.
We had worked hard all morning, and knew the afternoon would bring plenty more. Lunchtime was a great time to talk over the accomplishments of the morning, listen to the farm market and the weather report, then make plans for the rest of the day.
Springtime meant walking the fences, checking for weak posts, putting a halt to the climbing and clamoring weeds. Or it might mean stone picking in wide open fields. We longed for shade, especially after our fair skin had turned pink with the early burn of every single spring, but the rocks seemed to grow endlessly in those fields. The work was never done.
Summertime for us was not the summer vacation that our friends enjoyed. Instead, it meant the constant work of haying squeezed between two milking times. Popsicles, ice cream bars, an ice-cold drink of water from the Thermos was a welcome treat.
If time permitted, we would jump in the pond for a refreshing swim, followed by a quick little nap in the sunshine before changing in to milking clothes and heavy boots.
One thing I have realized as I have grown older is that free and easy fun time must be embraced. For the longest time, I have felt a stab of guilt if I sit down in the middle of a given day. My kids and their friends love it here because we have the farm, the animals, the work, but also the play.
And always, always, good food enjoyed during the busy part of the day and night.
Last night and again this morning, I was reminded yet again how much better food tastes when it is prepared together with a kitchen filled with friends. A bonfire party here last night to see off two remarkable, life-long friends about to embark on a cross-country trip extended in to a wonderfully loud, chaotic breakfast of fresh sausage, pancakes with fresh maple syrup.
There is nothing more joyful than laughter and conversation wrapped around a hearty breakfast with friends.