If butter is soft, can warm weather be far behind?
When the butter in my kitchen cupboard is soft enough to spread at 7:30 a.m., I know for sure warm weather is on the way. All winter I struggle with semi-frozen butter. Although it’s in the cupboard, it’s so cold in my trailer the butter becomes unspreadable. It tears holes in my toast, refuses to melt on warm muffins, and stays in small globs on sandwiches.
Years ago our kitchen in the old house was cold enough to freeze butter. I remember Mom putting the butter dish in the oven of our woodstove. The butter had to be softened before spreading it on our morning toast or the tuna fish sandwiches for our school lunch. It didn’t happen often, but sometimes we got distracted and forgot it was in the oven. That’s when the butter turned to soup. We poured it over our toast, but I think Mom resorted to slapping our sandwiches with Miracle Whip.
Many things have changed over the years and I’ve tried my best to adjust to what I don’t like, but hard butter is not one of them. Although the old house is long gone, my trailer is so cold the butter situation remains the same. From the middle of November through most of April, I can count on the challenge Mom faced with one major difference. I don’t put the butter dish in the oven of my electric range.
My trailer holds the heat in summer and the cold in winter. The reverse would be nice, but that’s not the way things are. Only when the temperature reaches 60 degrees outside and my wall thermostat says it’s 75 in my living room will I find a melted mess in the butter dish. That’s when I know soupy butter is proof positive the outdoor heat has permeated the one inch walls of my home. By July, I’ll spoon the yellow stuff onto a walnut muffin and rejoice that winter is finally over.
As I age, I tend to rejoice over the smallest of victories and refuse to fret over the most unfortunate of defeats. We all have them, those miseries that creep upon us like thieves at midnight, but if we’ve learned anything from our years of living, we know circumstances change. For example, every year I say I’m going to have a garage sale and every year I don’t. It’s just too much trouble. All the sorting, dusting, and pricing take a lot of time and energy. I have the time, but like poor old Jeb, I just don’t have the energy.
A year ago I promised myself I really would get rid of things I never use and don’t need. I was slow in putting my plan into action until I made my yearly trip to the wellhouse. Some critter decided to make the building his winter residence. He tore apart boxes, threw glassware helter-skelter, and generally made an awful mess. Like a child ripping apart Christmas presents looking for something Santa didn’t bring, the varmint went away disappointed. I knew it was time to roll up my sleeves and take command of the situation. I loaded my wheelbarrow and made a dozen trips from the wellhouse to the garage. Then I put signs at the end of my sideroad and posted some items on the internet.
An oak side table was going for $20. Someone asked if it was sturdy. Well, let’s see. It’s almost 100 years old so sturdy is relative. I responded that it wasn’t sturdy enough to dance upon, but it was just dandy for a lamp, a vase of flowers, or anything else one puts on a side table. The person decided against it so I gave it to my niece who promised to practice the polka on her floor, not the table top.
Then there was a question about a $25 Rembrandt floor lamp about as old as the table. I posted one photo and answered all the questions. Yes, the sockets and plug work. No, it’s not solid brass that’s why I spray painted the base where it was a bit rusty. Yes it has a silk shade, but it’s ripped so I made a cloth cover for it that’s included in the price. The person passed on it so I brought it back in the trailer where it should have stayed in the first place.
As I arranged things, I realized no one would pay $20 for a set of porcelain dishes so I brought them back inside. Ditto for my $10 bread machine and $5 cut glass wine decanters. It went like that for the rest of August until I finally gave up and tarped my tables. Maybe I’ll have a sale this year when I’m too tired to haggle over prices. Or maybe I’ll just keep things right where they are.
As for my butter, it’s one of life’s small pleasures I enjoy. The ad for the stuff called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” is for folks who never tasted butter. Unilever, the company that produces it, may fool some consumers, but for those of us who grew up on a farm, the non-dairy “butter” is right up there with Tab and “will you take $1.00 for that brand new bread machine.” You know what I mean, don’t you?
Editor’s note: Sharon M. Kennedy of Brimley is a humorist who infuses her musings with a hardy dose of matriarchal common sense. She writes about everyday experiences most of us have encountered at one time or another on our journey through life. Her articles are a combination of present day observations and nostalgic glances of the past. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, Sharon has compiled a collection of stories from her various newspaper columns. The title of her book is “Life in a Tin Can.” Copies are available from Snowbound Books on North Third Street in Marquette.