SALT to TASTE
Using her old fancy Foster, I begin splitting a few of the Galas I brought from my kitchen. They aren’t perfect for cooking, the flavor too delicate, but it isn’t the right time of year for Honeycrisp, so I make do. Still figuring out the process, I’m not too concerned with flavor.
Feeling petty and knowing she is picky, I set the big knife down and use her boning blade. Like always, she turns her nose up at my ways and makes disgusted noises while I work. I know I should be the better person. If I had the heart to settle her mind, in these final moments, I would tell her she was right about one thing.
But the house smells so sweet from the cornbread loaves, having dried in the window sill all day, and I don’t want to spoil this moment. So, after wiping the rolling pin clean, I crush the crunchy bread cubes into crumbs and add sliced celery and onions. Next, I put in the apples, garlic, sage and egg. Salt to taste. Mixing it all until it’s moist, but not wet.
I turn my attention to the old bird, untucking the scrawny legs and upturning the neck so I have more room to work. “Haven’t I treated you well. Better than what you’re used to?” Those words, her words, repeat; giving my arms the strength to wrestle her to the middle of the table. I use the rolling pin again, to quiet the course.
Pushing my sleeves up until well over my elbows, because stuffing the bird is the messiest part of this meal, I take a wide mouthed ladle from her kitchen drawer and mix up the dressing, then stuff the neck and body. Done, I tuck her legs back in position; trussing and securing her with twine. I prop the arms under to hold the neck in place.
Since there is no pan large enough, and I’m sure the oven is too small, I haul my ingredients and tools into the living room, making use of her large, fine fireplace. Taking a step back I consider my work. It’s not an appetizing sight; most uncooked birds aren’t, but that will change once it reaches a delicate golden brown.
After I push her into the pit and light the fragrant logs, I close my eyes and decide to share a truth with her. “You’re right, I am a terrible wife. I can’t keep house, and I’m an even worse cook.” Shaking my head, I open my eyes and reach for the blackened fire screen, slamming it into place. “But I promise to keep trying.”*Thank you Beau Johnson.