I've been having some work done on my house these last few weeks. And it's been stressful. I haven't been home for the noise and mayhem but there are plenty of new chores when I do come home. And extra emails, texts and phone calls during the day from the contractor. He's a nice man but I'll be glad when it's all over.
I had no intention of emptying the dishwasher one night last week. The early darkness has been unnerving me a bit as I still get used to living alone. I wanted to put my glass in the sink and escape back to my safe room with the warm and cozy light stream and pretend I didn't see the leftover screws on the floor. But I did see some crumbs near the toaster and brushed them down the sink with my hand and then a towel left on the microwave needed to be smoothed and hung. Before long, I was sweeping up the screws and dust from the day's booted feet...and emptying the dishwasher. Slowly a calming peace came over me. The atmosphere was quiet and still and I was alone with my thoughts. Before long, all felt right with the world again.
One of my favorite wartime films, Since You Went Away, is about wife and mother Anne Hilton whose husband Tim departs for war, leaving Anne to tend the home fires alone. One night, while her girls are bickering upstairs, Anne remains in the kitchen doing what grown-ups do: clean up. As I worked my way through the kitchen, I thought of Anne making lunches, filling the percolator and setting it on the stove, and generally tidying up in her apron in the darkened kitchen. And even though a war raged across the ocean and at home there were frightening black-out nights, mounting chores and responsibilities never slowed down. As the grown-up, Anne was on first.
There is something very adult about taking care of business in the night kitchen. It's a way of taking care of yourself too. Work left undone in the kitchen makes for chaos everywhere. And when the heart of the home is tidy, the rest of the house seems tidy too.
Note: The picture above was forwarded to me by reader and pen pal, Judy, who clipped it from her parent's Readers Digest as a girl and saved it for the time she would have her own kitchen. Look closely and you will see our pretty homemaker is not performing her nighttime kitchen tasks alone ;)