January 12th | Niles Reddick
The freezing fog and the rain had blanketed our Northwest hamlet on the Pacific for days, and we kept the fire stoked during the day and added extra blankets to our beds at night. Our teenager Andy was hungry, and Celeste offered to cook. I had grilled burgers on the inside grill for lunch and we tried to take turns.
“How about breakfast for dinner?” I asked.
“Oh, that sounds good,” she said. “How about pancakes with eggs and bacon?”
“Mom, don’t use that keto mix. Takes like cardboard,” Andy said.
“Okay,” she said.
I didn’t want the extra carbohydrates, but something about pancakes with butter and syrup felt good. The experience reminded me of my grandfather who ate oatmeal almost every other day. “Sticks to your ribs,” he’d said. I looked out the window and saw a small fishing boat cruising away from land. My grandfather had gone out, too, in the freezing rain and fog. He was never seen again. We believed it may have been a rogue wave that capsized his boat, but I knew that’s exactly how he would’ve wanted to leave this world—doing what he loved most, but I could never quite bring myself to sign on for such work. I preferred being a landlubber.
“Okay, two are ready,” Celeste said. They were perfect circles, and Andy and I put one each on our paper plates, dabbed butter, smoothed it around, and poured syrup on top. I cut the circle with the fork and stuck the first piece in my mouth, but my anticipation died. My first comment was “What did you use?”
“Vegetable oil,” Celeste said.
“Damn,” I said. I poured more syrup and dabbed the next slice in the puddle, but it tasted worse.
“Mom, this is awful,” Andy said.
“Well, I’m doing the best I can here,” she snapped.
“I don’t think he was critical of you. It’s just these pancakes taste like shit. Don’t take it personally.”
Celeste dumped the batter in the sink, threw the bowl and spoon in the sink, and slammed cabinet doors after she placed items in the cabinet. Spices, oils, boxes were all organized in the cabinets, lined up and compartmentalized at right angles. She became flustered when something was out of place or turned in a different direction. She was the same about the chairs at the kitchen table, the shoes in her closet, the towels, and clothes we folded.
“I found a recipe online. It was best I could do.”
“What website? Poisonyourfamily.com?” I chuckled at my creativity.
“Make yourself something else, then.”
“It’s not your fault, but you try one and see what you think.” She did and I could see by the grimace on her face that she, too, thought they were gross.
“That’s awful. I’ll put this pancake experience in my bad recipe book. They did look good, though.”
“Yes, they were golden.”
Celeste laughed. “I’ll put a kettle of water on and we can have some oatmeal. Sticks to your ribs.”
“Sounds good to me,” said Andy. “Maybe later if the rain lets up, dad, you could take me out fishing.”
“Why don’t we go into town and take in a museum or something?” I feared he’d grow up and go out to sea and not come back like my grandfather. There was a logical side of me that knew I’d have to let him go. Now, however, he was safe and inside with me.