Scurlock: I remember a storybook cottage kitchen


Nicole Scurlock

My grandma’s house on Spicewood Court is the nicest house in which I’ve ever stayed all night. A world away from our home across the city, my grandma lived in a proper neighborhood. Her neighborhood had a name – and sidewalks and large shade trees and a pool with a deep end and a clubhouse. My grandma’s house had two stories, extra bedrooms, a two-car garage, a front porch, a back patio and well-tended flower beds, full bird feeders, and a kind of crisscross pattern on the windows which made it feel like a storybook cottage. As children, my younger brother and I spent a lot of time at the house on Spicewood Court, and the room I remember most is the kitchen.

In the mornings, my grandma would rustle us awake to wash up and dress before breakfast. At the kitchen table, she would lead my brother and I in prayer before our meal. She would serve warm or cold cereal, allowing us to add sugar if we liked. Of course we added sugar, and when she told us it was enough, we’d wait until her back was turned to add a shake more, giggling conspiratorially as we stirred it in. In the middle of the table were stacks of buttered toast to which we could add honey or jam if we liked. I had a mess of long, thick, unkempt hair, and she would come over beside me to tie it back and away from my face and food, reminding me of the importance of thorough brushing and how we should take pride in our appearance. With the curtains drawn and the shades lifted, I would point out little jumping spiders on the windowsills. My grandma always told us to let the spiders be. She assured us that they wouldn’t bother us if we didn’t bother them, and I believed her, and I wasn’t afraid.

Many afternoons, my brother and I would kneel on chairs at the kitchen counter and help my grandma to measure and mix the ingredients for oatmeal cookies. She kept a variety of mix-ins to choose from: raisins, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and even mint chocolate chips. We enjoyed the cookies fresh out of the oven and bagged many of them to take back home with us. At the kitchen table, we played board games, assembled puzzles, painted pictures, and circled wishes in the Sears catalog. We did our homework. The kitchen is where we practiced manners and our indoor voice. My grandma kept a small tin of gum in one of the cupboards which smelled like bubblegum and cinnamon and she would offer us each a piece between meals.

When my grandma eventually packed us up to go home, we were undoubtedly well-rested with full stomachs and clean clothes, toting bags of the cookies we had made and probably a casserole to hand off to our dad. I am, perhaps, fairly scattered and excessively nostalgic about it all, but truth be told, I think my brother and I always left Spicewood Court a bit more civilized, a bit more cultured, and a bit more prepared to take on the world.

Nicole Scurlock lives in Greenfield with her husband and housecat. Their 20-year-old daughter attends Purdue University. Nicole enjoys reading and baking in her spare time.