My Yellow Apron
Ruth Lapp Guengerich
I don’t usually wear an apron when cooking, although I know I should. However, when it is time to bake pies for our Thanksgiving dinner, and make cranberry salad, I don my yellow apron to mix flour and shortening, carefully measured water, oil, and milk, and mix gently, “only till it forms a ball,” as my mother demonstrated every Saturday morning throughout my life at home.
Donning this yellow apron calls up memories of living in Japan. This particular apron was made for me by our babysitter in Obihiro, Japan; I have regretfully forgotten her name. Her image is stored on slides taken 42 years ago, but who looks at slides anymore? Though I remember her as an English conversation student and then babysitter, I fear her name has left my conscious memory; perhaps someday as I reread my many blue aerogram letters to our parents during those three years that we lived in Japan, I will find her name recorded to further jog my memory.
The yellow apron has a pocket beginning to pull away and needs to be mended. There are stains which can no longer be removed, but are reminders of the many times I have worn it when cooking or baking and left memories stored visibly in the sturdy fabric. Recalling more than 40 years of cooking, still with this same apron (although at Christmas I now don a beautiful Christmas apron), warms my heart as I carefully roll out the pastry for my Thanksgiving pies — pecan for Lisa and Ron, pumpkin for Jason and Jack, and a shoofly pie for the third pastry (because shoofly can be eaten any time of day and any day of the week, with coffee or a glass of milk, warm out of the oven or room temperature).
My stream of consciousness daydreaming flits from the yellow apron, to the many borrowed recipes, to an amalgam of family traditions, all wrapped up in a lifetime of learning from others. The shoofly pie is from my tradition, (using my sister Sara’s recipe); my pumpkin pie and cranberry salad recipes are from my mother-in-law, Marjorie Guengerich. These recipes are handwritten in my red loose leaf recipe notebook, begun while living in Japan. This little red notebook contains well-worn pages of recipes from friends from England, Scotland, Japan, and North America, just as my apron stores well-worn traditions.