Saying a final good-bye to my family home was harder than I expected. Mama was gone now, but this kitchen had been her domain, and she had turned out the kind of meals that could tempt the most reluctant appetite.
Memories of enticing aromas reminded me to look for Great-gramma’s spice cupboard. Our only family heirloom, it was made of solid walnut, had 32 metal-lined drawers, and hand-carved scrollwork covering both doors. I couldn’t help but admire it once more. Cooking was both a joy and a calling to Mama, and she kept this little cupboard well stocked. Nostalgia overcame me, and while I was wandering around in the days of my childhood, tiny little voices were having their say behind the closed doors of the spice cupboard.
“No more ABC’s for us!” “I’m more than a letter!” “Yeah!” “Alphabetical order is for babies!”
Sesame took charge. “As it happens, I agree with you, and as Chairman of the Cupboard, I submit that our little Cupboard is in desperate need of reorganizing. For now, though, I insist that you all control yourselves!” He tended to be quite bossy.
When quiet returned, Allspice strutted forward. “It’s obvious that the most prominent of us should be assigned to the top row.”
Some of the others vigorously objected. “He just thinks he deserves special treatment because his family tree is listed as one of the founders of the Spices of the American Revolution!”
“Ha. So are most of ours. Besides, that’s not such a big deal.” Cayenne Pepper could be hot under the collar at times, but today he just pointed toward Nutmeg. “His family sailed with Magellan during his first around-the-world journey.”
Oregano began, “I’ve said it before, but I don’t mind repeating myself. The oldest -- ”
As he spoke, exotic Cardamom objected. “Oregano, you are not even of the Spice persuasion. Your kind has no place at this gathering.”
But Oregano was bold, and stood his ground. “Neither is Basil. So what? We herbs need a place to stay, too. We all work together, anyways. “
“Are you going to Scarborough Fair . . . “
“There they go again. You guys -- Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme! Now is not the time for singing. We’re having a meeting here.”
Sage only smiled. “Oh, we don’t agree. Music soothes the savage beast, and it appears there are several of those here. Besides, we can’t help ourselves. We’re just a musical bunch.”
Ginger and Curry chuckled at the crazy antics, but standing so close, Ginger realized her friend had a “personal” problem. “Um, Curry . . . I don’t mean to embarrass you, but, well -- you don’t -- smell. You used to be the strongest smelling guy around.”
“Oh, sorry. Am I offensive? I’ve been around for a while, ya know? Nobody stays pungent forever.”
“And nothing can be done? I’m so sorry to hear that.”
Sesame tried once more to gain control. “Spices! Spices! . . .er, and Herbs. Obviously, everyone here can boast of a noble ancestry. Most of us came up hearing stories of the Spice Islands, or camel caravans trekking through the Arabian Desert. Turmeric and Cinnamon, and some of you others, your histories go back into antiquity, but we must not lose focus on our task here today. As Chairman of the Cupboard, I am aware that things have been slow lately, but there is likely roasting, grinding and crushing ahead for many of us. If we are to be at our best, we need to take care of business now.”
Star Anise sashayed to the front. “I have a suggestion, if you care to listen.” Star had a way of adding a bit of sweetness to everything. “I think it would be fun to organize according to form. Seeds on the top row, pods next, then leaves and stems, and finally, herbs.”
Mostly because spices and herbs are no good at business meetings, the whole group gladly went along with Star’s plan. They all hurried away to get settled in their reassigned lodgings, leaving the Chairman of the Cupboard frantically calling after them, “But wait, I need a motion for dismissal!”
I shook my head, trying to clear the fog from my brain. “Wow. I must be more tired than I thought. I need to get home now, and this cupboard is coming with me.” A silly grin covered my face as a thought occurred to me. “Maybe now I’ll finally learn to cook.”
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