When I stepped across the threshold, into this land of the unknown, I could feel the magic of its splendor surge through me. I knew…I knew this was no ordinary place.
Passing through the entry way I was immediately lost in the sweetness of the smells… old books surrounding me on both sides…shelves and shelves overflowing with stories of people’s lives – of their hurts, their joys, their dreams, their adventures…the burning of wood in the cook stove, wafting up to meet me, bringing back remembrances of burnt marshmallows, sing-a-longs and staying up far past my bedtime.
Taking my spot inside (and, yes, it would become “my spot”) on the big gray over-stuffed couch, I buried myself deep within the folds of an ancient quilt – faded and fraying, yet the beauty remained. I couldn’t help but picture the nimble fingers that would have sewn for hours this threadbare masterpiece, perhaps in a Summer Kitchen much like this. Did she plant a garden like the one that was blossoming outside my window? Did she make the children’s clothes on a spinning wheel like the one that now sat silent in the corner? Were their family meals lovingly made at a cook stove like the one that was warming my fingers and toes?
Though I was only a visitor there, just passing through, I always thought of the Summer Kitchen as if it were my own. It was my get away, my thinking room or, like Superman, my “Fortress of Solitude”. I would spend hours there, hidden away beneath that old quilt, a book in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, as the crackling of the fire echoed quietly against the walls.
My time in that quiet country home flew by quickly. But, fleeting as it was, every moment was filled with life, love and glimpses of God through the lives of others. Each cuddle beneath that quilt was a new opportunity to contemplate, to ruminate, to talk with God, to discover me. And, at times, to just escape the realities of life into the adventures of Huck Finn or the joys and sorrows of Jo March and her sisters.
Over thirty years have passed since last I warmed myself in front of that old cook stove. Even so, when my mind seeks a quiet corner, when my heart yearns for peace, when I need to find my “happy place” to escape for just a moment or two, I find myself back in the Summer Kitchen curled under that quilt, once again.