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Soup?

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Monday mornings would find Mom stationed at her Kenmore wringer washing machine.

That old appliance required commitment, strength and lots of time. Mom spent theLaundry better part of the day feeding laundry through the wringer, and hanging it out to dry.

Winter months forced her to hang the clothes indoors, on lines strung out like spider webs across the laundry room. It transformed the space into a clammy labyrinth of narrow damp passageways. A blanket of humidity spread through the house, fogging my glasses and leaving me feeling as if I had developed the beginnings of COPD.

I hated Mondays, but not because it was laundry day.

Monday was also soup day.

Mom being preoccupied with the laundry would throw together a pot of soup and leave it to simmer all day.

No doubt about it, Mom was a great cook.  Memories of her mouthwatering homemade meals still woo my taste buds.  Our home was infused with the savory aromas of her culinary skills.

But something went terribly wrong on the day she learned to make soup.

Specifically, chicken soup.

As in every other chicken soup recipe, she included the usual suspects; celery, carrots, onion, along with a few other unrecognizable ingredients. She claimed the pot contained chicken but I never could locate it.  It was more of a greasy bland vegetable broth and tasted nothing like chicken.

As my brother-in-law once put it:

A chicken may have flown over the pot — but I don’t believe it actually landed in there.

The only thing that saved the day was her homemade egg dumplings.

Mom would place a bowl of her mystery soup in front of me and I’d load it up with as many dumplings as the bowl would allow, but it always ended the same way. When the dumplings were gone, soup remained. And come hell or high water, she was going to make me finish it.

I grew up in a time when families were expected to eat meals together. When moms and dads had the final word on everything. An era when life lessons were taught at an early age. The attempts to plead my case always concluded with me finishing the bowl.

Mom knew something about that soup. Dumplings alone couldn’t provide the nourishment I needed to grow and thrive. Mom also knew that her chicken soup was good for the soul. In order to sustain myself in the future, I would need to learn how to do things I didn’t want to do.

I’m grateful for those early lessons because I’ve found that life often forces us to swallow things we don’t like:  difficult circumstances that leave us no other choice but to journey through them.

Over time I’ve come to rely on an indisputable certainty:  morning dawns a new day…like Tuesday.

Tuesday happened to be ironing day. A day we might expect to find a savory pot of chile or a rich beef stew simmering on the stove.

I loved Tuesdays!

Photo credit: Cayusa via Foter.com / CC BY-NC
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11 thoughts on “Soup?

  1. Good to see you again. I love how you tell a story. I also had to finish every dish, and not take seconds unless they will be eaten.

    My mom made lighter than air dumplings for chicken. I never liked them from anyone else.

    oh, p.s. had to smile because I also did a soup post today ^_^

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  2. Gene, you made me laugh and you made me ponder the lessons I’ve learned at my own family dinner table. It’s wonderful to find a new post here today. Welcome back. 🙂 By the way, I made chicken soup yesterday. My kids ate some of it…reluctantly (toast saved the day for them). It was my husband who loved it and took the rest for his lunch.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

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  3. Gene, as others have said, it’s so nice to see you writing here again. 🙂 I had to grin at a number of places in your post. Parents having the final say? Definitely true in the house I grew up in. Family dinners? Oh yes. I have many fond memories of our dinnertimes in our sunporch/laundry room/dining area. Soup? Yes, my mom made everything after she boiled the chicken overnight to create her broth. Never my favorite, though the overall soup was fairly tasty. But I’m a little jealous that you got dumplings growing up. I never had any till I learned to make them as a newly married wife.

    I loved the lessons you shared in your post. Learning to deal with the less-than-pleasant aspects of life is a key to living well.

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  4. Welcome back Gene! I’ve missed your posts for so long. I knew that when you finally popped back onto WP that you wouldn’t disapoint. A great blog and well worth waiting for! I’m so glad you’re back 😄.

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