A few weeks back, I was going through the blogs in my reader and came upon this recipe for Chinese-style pickles. The directions were easy enough to follow and we had all the ingredients, so I made a batch and then steadily picked away at them for a week afterward (and for the record, they were delicious).
Every time I opened the fridge and snagged a pickle, I thought of my mom, who knows how to make pickles. She makes the best pickles, as a matter of fact (same is true of her potato salad, her coleslaw, her cornbread, her stuffing, and well, all the foods that moms make best and which you’ll never eat outside home for that reason).
I felt grateful for the memory of her making pickles in a huge ceramic crock, but I felt sad, too, because eating the pickles also made me think about all the things my parents know how to do– and all the things I don’t know.
A very partial list:
My mom can sew; grow plants; train dogs; and make pickles, preserves, and all other kinds of canned goodness. She knows how to saddle a horse and handle snakes. She knows genuses and species and zoological and biological classifications. She knows how to build cabinets, desks, and bird houses.
My dad knows how and when to plant a garden, how to neuter a cat, how to fix cars, how to hunt, fish, scout animals, and how to prepare your catch for human consumption. He knows all about polymer chemistry, he can use a compass, and he knows how to find arrowheads.
I don’t know any of these things, though it’s not for their lack of effort in teaching me.
There are other things I know, of course, and I feel good about them. I can speak Spanish. I know how to live in a city. I know how to make a living as a freelancer. I can research almost anything. I know how to cook squash blossoms and cactus paddles.
But still, I wish I knew everything my parents know.