When I was younger, I filled my kitchen with beautiful, shiny and new things - streamlined, lightweight, and non-stick. They looked beautiful...and didn't work worth a damn. But, thank goodness, with age comes wisdom. Now, one of my most prized possessions is a wooden spoon that my Nana used in her kitchen for years and years, that I received after her death in 2003. And whenever I can, I cook with cast iron pots and pans. My favourite is a deep sided iron frying pan that I picked up at a thrift store a few years back for $2. It had already been well seasoned with years of cooking, it feels substantial in my hand, and it seems to give off memories as well as aromas whenever I use it. When I use that pan, I am filled with thoughts of how many meals have been cooked up with love for families over the years. Did it have just one owner before me, or many? Who was she? Was she cooking for herself only, or for a family of many? What did she most enjoy making? Was cooking a labour, or a labour of love? This is not a pot that will end up in the trash heap. It will likely be used in my home until I die (or until I am too old and weak to lift it!) and then will be passed on to one of my children. It was created to be used, not just looked at. If it is well cared for, it will not need to be patched, repaired, or replaced. Its durability and history are what makes it beautiful in my eyes. What a lovely, lovely pot.
Fewer and fewer Americans possess objects that have a patina, old furniture, grandparents' pots and pans - the used things, warm with generations of human touch, essential to a human landscape. Instead, we have our paper phantoms, transistorized landscapes. A featherweight portable museum.