I came across this image in a book while I was cataloging today. It seems innocent enough--and maybe that is why it had the effect that it did--but it triggered overwhelming feelings of longing.
Most simply, it was a longing to be young again. To feel that sense of accomplishment after completing a simple task like tying your shoe, potting your first flower, or perhaps, like the girl in the photo, preparing your own lunch for the first time. A task, that as an adult, I simply take for granted. As we grow older and more experienced, finding fulfillment in such simplistic actions becomes more elusive.
On a deeper, more cutting level, one I am reluctant to share in such a public arena because I have trouble admitting it to myself, is a longing to teach my own children--children I have decided I will never have--these simple lessons. The child in this photo, or one like her, will never be mine, will never come running up to me, eyes shining, lips parted in a big, proud smile to show me that she has taken one small step toward independence.
Lastly, I think of the girl herself, who by now would be in her mid-70s, her twilight--if she still lives--so far from who she was, standing proudly in this idealized kitchen with a flower in the window. What is she doing now?
I never would have guessed that a cookbook would catch me so off-guard.
The image is from Fun With Cooking, Easy Recipes for Beginners by Mae Blacker Freeman, 1947.