Appreciation for simple things: Lunch

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While reading through Good Poems for Hard Times, a collection of poetry selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor, I ran across a writing by Erica Funkhouser that could have been written by one of us.
The writing, My Father’s Lunch, is reminiscent of so many noontime meals spent with my own dad. I can’t help but think that this is a universal blessing among farm families.
“For now he was ours,” Erica Funkhouser writes, “whether he smelled of chokecherry, tractor oil, or twine. He’d washed his hands with brown naphtha soap and splashed water onto his face and shaken it off like a dog.
“He’d offer more ham, more bread to anyone who sat down. This was work, too, but he did it slowly, with no impatience, not yet reminding the older boys that he’d need them later or asking the smaller children if we’d stored the apples or shoved last year’s hay out of the wonderful window to nowhere.”
She speaks of this as the “interlude” of the day.
“We could see it was an old meal with the patina of dream going back to the first days of bread and meat and work,” she writes.
Memories. It prompted me to recall my own father’s enjoyment of the noon meal.
He ate with almost a reverence, commenting on the good taste of such simple things. He loved peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwiches. He could make even a bowl full of broken white bread, milk and sugar seem like a rich man’s feast.
Near the end of his life, my father spoke of such things as the wonderful aroma of home-baked bread, the beauty of jam in glass jars lining the pantry shelves in his childhood.
Perfect pot roast. He spoke with amazement of returning home from Sunday school to the scent of roast, potatoes and carrots simmering in the old cook stove.
He wondered aloud how his mother had known the proper amount of wood with which to stoke that fire. Too much and there would have been dried beef and charcoaled vegetables; too little wood and the meal would have remained raw and hard.
But, with such precision, that meal was cooking to perfection while they sang hymns and praised Jesus. He felt like the luckiest boy alive.
Appreciation. My father taught us an appreciation for such simple things as fresh bread with real butter, eggs and crisp bacon, potatoes with gravy.
This went beyond the need for sustenance –

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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