Peeling Potatoes

I was cutting up a cantalope tonight, watching my knife make the smooth cuts around the rind, watching the neat pieces of melon fall into the bowl, watching my hands perform this amazing task.

I mean, have you ever tried cutting up a melon into bite-sized pieces? It takes practice.

I was thinking, "How many times have I watched my mother's hands cut up a cantalope, a watermelon? Peel potatoes? Wash a pan? Write a thank you note? Sew a straight seam?" Where did she learn to do all these things?


I was thinking of Mom's poem, "Peeling Potatoes." I always liked this poem because Mom told me it was written about me. The ones about me are my favorites--I hoard them to myself like M&Ms. Probably Mom told everyone that poem was about them, but I still like it and I was still thinking about it tonight.

Here it is in its entirety. I hope Mom doesn't mind if I put it up on the net.

By the kitchen sink we stand
Each with pairing knife in hand,
Her hands of seven years so small
while mine...A mother's hands, that's all.

"Why," she asks in lilting song,
"Must I struggle oh, so long?
For while I'm peeling one of mine
I look and see tht you've done nine."

Nine potatoes in a pot,
One, crudely cut, won't add a lot.
But of potatoes I've no need,
I've watched a child progress, succeed..

Why, Oh, Father, must I strive
To serve Thee all my mortal life?
Child, of thy service I've no need
It's you who must progress, succeed.

By Elsie Palmer

And I was just thinking about things that are a big deal, that are hard for me to do. After I do them grudginly for a while, they become easier and easier until I wonder why things were ever such a big deal.

And this reminds me of Lieutenant Dan on Forrest Gump who, when riding out a hurricane (was it a hurricane?), screams into the torrent, "You call this a storm?" Because, you see, he had already been through some storms, yeah?

Anyway, guess I'll be seeing you. Kammi wants me to watch a movie with her because Dad and Zach are faaaaaaast asleep. It's girls night! Can't sit here typing with Barbie Swan Lake waiting, can I?



Elsie said…
That poem is about you. It's one of my favorites, too. I had some similar thoughts the other day as I watched you teaching me how to make cinnamon rolls. It seemed so easy for you but when I tried the other 4 dozen last night (after working at the pasta plant all day) it was not as easy as you made it look - at least the first 2 dozen. They were wonderful btw. Have a great day.

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