My mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, owned six roasters.
You know, those large oval roasting pans, heavy black steel with removable lids. Speckled with white dots, for some obscure aesthetic reason.
A fact her family discovered after she died, 10 years ago, and we began to go through her house. Roasters stashed in closets, on shelves in the basement.
I wish I could have asked her: “Why so many?” Though the answer would almost certainly have been a chuckle and a wave of the hand. Our guess was it had to do with the Great Depression.
She did cook a lot.
We kept one roaster that reminded me of a World War I dreadnought and unloaded the rest for a couple of dollars apiece at the estate sale. We never use it, and I wonder if the others are also just being stored until they’re on the move again, passed along to new owners, down through the generations. I hope at some point somebody roasts something.
We are, many of us, surrounded by such enormous shoals of stuff that its utter superfluousness seldom occurs to us unless the stuff’s owner dies, and we’re in charge of deciding what to keep (not much) and what to give away (most everything).
Or some natural disaster suddenly sweeps it into the street. When I heard Monday that a tornado had hit Naperville and Woodridge, my first impulse was to race there and talk to residents picking through their devastated homes.
Because I still remember, vividly, Plainfield after the tornado hit in 1990. An older couple going through their flattened home, finding a teacup, intact, and just laughing. They were glad to have the teacup, plucked out of the chewing jaws of nature.
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