Home for the Summer: Aug. 14In 1993, in one of my first columns, I mentioned the waffle iron at the cabin. It, along with many other things – some useful, some not – were part of what came with our purchase of the land and the building.
By: Jan Kent, Lake County News Chronicle
In 1993, in one of my first columns, I mentioned the waffle iron at the cabin. It, along with many other things – some useful, some not – were part of what came with our purchase of the land and the building.
We bought the cabin 20 years ago, and the waffle iron was an old appliance then. It was round with delicate scrolling on it. Instead of round prongs for plugging it into the receptacle on the cord, the prongs were flat. The cord itself was from the days of limited outlets in homes, and was probably long enough to plug in at the neighbor’s house.
And, to our amazement, it produced terrific waffles. In order to understand our family’s amazement, you’d have to know our waffle history. At home we had a modern (sort of) waffle iron. It was from the pre-Teflon days, and so had to be seasoned before we could use it. So I followed all the directions (putting oil on it, wiping oil off of it, etc. etc.), but every time I tried to make waffles they stuck to the surface of the iron. Our children grew up thinking waffles were cooked, and scraped off the waffle iron, and then eaten in bowls – kind of like cereal but with maple syrup.
The cabin waffle iron came with an ancient piece of waxed paper stored between its surfaces. That was instantly dubbed the “sacred waxed paper.” So, with great respect, we made waffles in our wonderful iron and, after it cooled, we reinstalled the sacred waxed paper, and stored it on a shelf. This worked for 20 years, and most likely, for 40 or more years before that.
Until this summer. Some sort of dementia seems to have set in. The first time we made waffles the batter was instantly stuck to the top and the bottom of the iron, and nothing less than brute force was going to get it off. We lovingly scraped all the bits off the iron, gently rubbed it with a bit of oil and wiped it off again. Another batch of waffles – with the same result. One more try – same result. Our waffle iron had gone ‘round the bend.
There was mourning in the cabin. At home the kids looked for a “sympathy to you in the loss of your appliance” card to send back up to us, but there were none to be found. We ate eggs, cereal, pancakes; we wanted waffles.
Finally we decided that we had to move on. We would shop for a new waffle iron. But what to do with the old one? Chipmunks came to mind. Wouldn’t all those little critters that scramble around under the cabin and make the dog crazy just love to scramble around on a waffle iron and eat up all the delicious bits. That would cheer us up sufficiently so that we could consign our waffle iron to the scrap metal heap.
We propped the waffle iron open outside the kitchen door and thought we would keep an eye on it during the day. Didn’t want to miss the chipmunks. Very quickly, though, we heard a thunk on the roof, and when we looked out the window there was a crowd of gulls surrounding the waffle iron. They screamed and fought and carried on, as gulls will do, until an alpha gull was established. Then he set to work on the waffle crumbs while the rest of the gang sat on the roof or lolled around on the grass. He did a pretty good job of cleaning up, but we left the waffle iron out – overnight – to see what would develop.
On the second day of waffle-iron-as-yard-art, when I glanced out the kitchen door, I saw a chipmunk scrambling around on the waffle iron. He looked really cute there gathering up crumbs. I grabbed my camera and, with great stealth, slipped out the door. Not enough stealth, though, as the chipmunk ran off into the tall grass. And, despite pretty good surveillance on our parts, no more chipmunks were spotted anywhere near the waffle iron.
Unable to keep our sorrow to ourselves, we mentioned it when we talked by phone with a friend who was coming up for a visit. And when she arrived, she brought with her the gift of a waffle iron. With great ceremony we burned the sacred waxed paper in a beach fire, and we’re getting on with our lives. Bring on the maple syrup.