A Summertime Kitchen
Our across-the-street-neighbor, Bradley, is closing in on his remodel of the old W.D. Taylor house. For me, watching the inside progress had been an adventure into the Land of Interior Design and Decoration. French army blankets used as wall coverings? China cabinets hidden behind secret doors? Custom-fabricated reinforced steel shelving to hold the thousand-plus books of his library? Each finishing touch is a revelation.
My favorite room, though, is the kitchen. It was the primary reason for the addition that was poked out on the building’s south side. The room is full of light (if not yet sunshine) and is punctuated with touches of ‘summertime at the beach.’ Pots and pans hang, not from a beam or a rack, but from a long, curved piece of driftwood. An oversized monarch butterfly is perched above the stove. I think of it as “a summertime kitchen” because that’s the way it makes me feel.
It’s an area of the house that makes me smile… and makes my mouth water for whatever deliciousness Bradley might conjure up. After all, it was not for naught that he dressed as Julia Child a Halloween or two ago and served a sit-down dinner with all the trimmings to his friends and neighbors. And that happened at the schoolhouse BC (before construction), so no telling what delights he will produce now that his kitchen is complete.
A summertime kitchen, though, should not be confused with a “summer kitchen.” In very hot weather, in the days before electricity and air conditioning, households often used a small building away from the main house for all those chores that required the use of the wood cook stove. It was there that the laundry was done, the canning and preserving took place, the meals were cooked and, often, where the family ate. It kept the heat out of the main house.
In Oysterville, of course, there was no need of a summer kitchen. In fact, even in summer, the warmth of the kitchen was often sought-after. I am in the kitchen writing this while drying my feet. I got them wet while carrying water to the cows, wrote my 15-year-old Aunt Medora in July of 1914. Our cool and misty-moisty marine weather doesn’t often warrant moving the kitchen activities to a separate building. Even dining al fresco is a rarity here.
No, it’s not a summer kitchen I think of at Bradley’s house. It’s the light, cheery feeling of summer here in Oysterville – the beach walks with their interesting discoveries, the profusion of colorful flowers with the butterflies hovering close by, the sunlight that seems to last forever on summer evenings. It’s comforting to know that it’s now just across the way all year long!