Problems, Apple Mousse and Sugar


The promise of warm lunch used to make me walk fast from school. My grandmother would cook something nice for us. Pancakes, carrot soup, potato dumplings or at times very apologetically she would serve some fusilli pasta with cinnamon, apple mousse and sugar. She didn’t need to apologize of course, we devoured it in seconds. We would exchange a few stories with her, have some tea and then run upstairs to our rooms to do our own things. Every so often I would complain to her about something, maybe about the lack of time to do what I need to or want to do, to which she would just utter her simple wisdom: “You know, child, sometimes you just need to wake up earlier.”

I don’t always wake up earlier. I stay up till late or even till after the sun rises when there is something that I feel the urge to complete. What struck me was the straightforwardness of my grandmother’s phrase: “You know, child, sometimes you just need to….” This is how she fixed problems, in this easy, plain and unproblematic manner. Of course, this would make me a little upset at times because when I was a teenager my problems were unsolvable, greater than the Earth and too important to be ‘belittled’ like this… but it was only when I left home that I learnt to appreciate her attitude and admire it in a way as well. Her plate was always full of responsibilities. There was a lot that she had to manage. The house. The children. The farm. The hay selling business. The orchard. The cleaning. The sewing. The preserve-making. The roses. The vegetable garden. The laundry and the ironing. She did it. She did all these things. Sometimes with help. Often on her own. She did it all.

Her workspace was clean, spaces uncluttered, and the floors washed. She made her life clear and manageable. She made her rooms bright. She had many dreams and passions when she was young. She loved music and learnt to play the violin. She loved German and was able to hold a conversation even in her old age. She enjoyed maths, geography and had an impeccable aesthetic sense. She was feminine and graceful. And although she was all these things also when I knew her, her life was so tied to her responsibilities that all her passions became secondary to them. My grandmother pushed herself too hard, there is no doubt abut that. Partially it was a survival tool developed during the war and after, but I think that largely it was who she was. When there was work to be done, she would just do it, without dithering, without a second thought. There was a lot of dignity in the way she led herself. There was character and eminence. There was elegance and style. Maybe there was a little bit of pride in her as well… pride of having survived…. or maybe inner gratefulness that she had survived. But to me her attitude to work and effort and her decision to look for clear solutions to her problems was most prominent. This is an attitude that I’ve been traveling with ever since she directed me that way. Thus, the day I left my country, despite being an enormous and relentless dreamer, I was not confused over one thing… it was perfectly clear to me that adulthood is full of those days when I just need to wake up earlier…


11 thoughts on “Problems, Apple Mousse and Sugar

  1. So nice! You made me think of both my grandma and my mum. I also like your writing stye and the emotions that you transmit in it. Happy New Year! x


  2. I have not eaten breakfast for thirty years but would happily sit down to a dish of pasta with cinnamon, apple mouse and sugar. A lovely tribute to your grandmother: poignant, eloquent and moving. What a legacy she left to you, the aesthetic, the internal order, the passion, the wisdom. A beautiful, beautiful post.


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