My mother was usually busy, as mothers tend to be. She had a spinning wheel in my earlier years, and could be found in the evenings, spinning and carding wool. In later years, this wool was sent off to Condon’s Woolen Mills in PEI to be dyed for sweaters or made into woolen blankets. My mother knit beautiful cardigans for the girls from the dyed wool and I rue the day that I complained because they caused me to itch. What I wouldn’t give today to have one of those beautiful sweaters. My mother’s hands were never idle as with five children, there was always something to do. If she wasn’t spinning, she was knitting, darning socks, sewing on the old treadle machine, or turning collars on my father’s shirts. At bedtime, we children knelt by her side in the warm kitchen and said our prayers before being tucked into bed.
For better or for worse, whichever way you wish to look at it, Newfoundland and our Newfoundland kitchen has changed dramatically since I grew up almost 70 years ago. Since the advent of electricity, television, Internet, cars, and modern conveniences, children are less innocent and more informed than ever. I can still go to that ancestral home where my older sister now lives, where the Sacred Heart picture still hangs, the wood burning stove still stands and the woodbox full of wood. The old kitchen beams are covered now, for my father in 1960, not realizing their esthetic value, drilled holes in them to run electrical wires through, and then covered them. But I can still stoke up the old stove, turn off the electric lights, light an old kerosene lamp and play a game of Scrabble with my sister, in the quiet evening light.