We have an old portable hand mixer that, like many of our kitchen implements, belonged to Michael's parents. When they died he inherited the avocado-green blender, the Pyrex glass measuring cup, the aluminum colander, the Bundt cake pan. And many other items, some that we use every day, others that inhabit only the darkest reaches of our cupboards.
I love the hand mixer. It is a three-speed 1970s model in white and a mustard gold that was called "Harvest." (Close kin to "Avocado.") Whenever I use it, which is surprisingly often for someone who is not very domestic, I think about Michael's mother, whom I never met. By all accounts she was strong, opinionated, and funny. I think we would have liked each other. I imagine her standing in her kitchen in Long Island, blending cake batter or beating eggs, thinking her private thoughts as the mixer's little motor hums away and the steel beaters whirl around.
My mother had an identical hand mixer when I was growing up; I remember licking batter off the beaters. We also had a Pyrex glass measuring cup and an aluminum colander. When I use these things I feel connected to my past. I am reminded of my childhood, and a time when even an ordinary kitchen appliance seemed imbued with possibilities.