Sunday, March 15, 2009

FLOUR


March 14, 2009 flour
On good, good days there is flour on my counter top. Flour and some sprinkles of sugar and the aroma of gingerbread. Flour with little hand prints angled like angel wings, the swirl of deep green granite underneath: Joy taking flight. There will be one big apron and two…or if I am REALLY lucky: four… little aprons hanging from the hook on the back of the pantry door when we are done. The little dancing ginger fellows we frost and anoint with raisins taste so yummy, but the most delicious of all life’s delicacies is the moment with my little ones. One generation down from the last batch I made.
My great- grandmother, a number of greats ago, was named Rebecca Rhodes. “Sister Rhodes” to the Brethren who had come to visit that night in their home near the water of the Mississippi. A hard, cold Nauvoo winter had left her cupboards nearly bare. No more bare than her neighbors, though. So when she heard that the children down the road were crying with hunger she threw her cloak around her shoulders and excused herself while the Priesthood huddled with her husband, discussing matters of survival in a hostile environment. She lowered her head as she approached the door, preparing for the wind that hurled itself against the house. Joseph stood and walked to her, leaving his conversation mid sentence. “Sister Rebecca, what do you carry under your coat tonight?” She kept her eyes fixed on the floor, her hands crossed around her belly, and paused just a moment. He had asked her a simple question, but the suddenness of it and the secrecy of her act caused the emotions in her to bump against each other and she needed a moment to think.
“Just a bit of flour, Brother Joseph.”
She unfolded her woolen wrap to reveal the last of their measure of grain. Her eyes scanned the floor, rose to the cluster of men gathered near the fire, then met straight-on the eyes of her prophet. He smiled when he saw it, and her cheeks flushed with heat. He opened the door for her and watched her push her way through the deep winter to the neighbor’s place. When she returned, Joseph Smith asked if he might pronounce a blessing on Sister Rhodes. Family records give the gist of that blessing as this; that the Lord was aware of the goodness and selflessness of Sister Rebecca Rhodes, and He cherished her as His daughter. It was promised that as long as Rebecca, and her posterity, remained faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they would not want for the necessities of the earth.
That same blessing was pronounced again to my mother’s generation when Uncle Fred was called on his mission to the Eastern United States in the first half of the last century. From what I can tell this is truth. I feel it in my own life. Not that the Lord thinks any more of me or my family than he does any other of His children. It’s just this little promise helps my faith reign over fear. I feel the goodness of Rebecca Rhodes coursing through my veins, like I feel similar traits of other ancestors alive in me and my family: the dedication of Henry Strong Parrish; the poetry of Elizabeth Mae Wood; the entrepreneurial spirit of George Parrish.
I lay the side of my hand in a scoop shape against the cold granite of my counter top. I sweep it across the layer of flour left over from our cookie making afternoon. I lift a paper bag to the edge and drop the dry dregs of our festivities into the garbage and realize I am tossing away more than she gave; a handful of flour on a winter night, so small, yet large enough to fill the bellies of her children, and her grandchildren and grandchildren’s grandchildren. I am the product of many good decisions made through the years by people whose names I share. I embrace the gospel, as they did, not because I want the prizes some people attribute to “being good”, but because it feels right to me; it makes me feel like I am being true to the me of many eons ago. I am the grand daughter of Rebecca Rhodes. How could I live otherwise?

3 comments:

  1. Tell me if I do this every day for the next 20 years mine will flow out as freely as your words do.

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  2. "Take this big cup of flour, add a pinch of salt - just pinch your fingers into the salt and pinch then put that in the flour - stir it together and then make a hole the size of a bird's nest in the flour. Now crack these eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork until they are are together. Now dump the eggs into the nest you just made in the flour and start stirring together gradually adding the flour to the eggs until it becomes a nice lump of dough. That's right. Now take the dough out of the bowl and kneed it a little like this - yes, turn it over and put the heel of your hand into. Aw now it is just right. Now sprinkle a little flour on the cutting board and roll out the dough with this rolling pin. Try and get it nice and even - that's right. Now take this noodle cutter and roll it through the dough - good. Now the noodles have to dry out before they get cooked so let's clean up the dishes while we wait. Oh good, they are just right. Put them one by one in the chicken broth - they take about 12 - 15 minutes to cook. Then we'll take some up to your Mom for lunch," said Grandma Eaton while we waited for you to be born.

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