What is home to you he asked? I felt the coolness of the key in my hand and a deep longing filled my being. I closed my eyes in remembrance.
The well worn steps’ comforting familiarity seemed to sing in harmony with my descending steps. I felt the weight of the key reassuringly hanging from my waist. The day I received the key, I felt as if I was queen receiving her crown. I treasured the key more than a thousand jeweled crown. Crowns however, come with both sorrow and joy. With my mother’s passing I became the custodian of the key. The Keeper of the Key, my mother carried the title with both the dignity and grace of a truly great queen. She instructed me carefully in the duties and responsibilities that went with the key. The mistress of the household kept the key to the larder and still room. It was she who had to keep a eye on the provisions and disperse with wise care, and foresight.
Mother was however more than the normal Keeper of the Key, she knew the secrets nature’s hidden language and taught me to read the signs that would tell of lean years to come, when sickness might blow on ill winds and how to prepare. All women of course were schooled from a young age in the art of preserving the any abundance of the harvest, but mother was known also for special skills in brewing the finest floral wines and sweet scented toilet waters.
There were other secrets she taught me as well. Secrets, that I had to swear on the key that I would only impart to the next Keeper of the Key. Secrets that will only be revealed at the dawn of the Time.
As I opened the door, I took a moment to inhale the air scented with fragrant herbs drying. I lit the lamp with a tinge of hesitation. I love the cool darkness of the cellar, that wraps its like a fragrant cloak around me. Shelves of bottled preserves, pickles, the nectar of the fruits preserved in wines and cordials, stand row upon row, in anticipation of the cold darkness of winter, when a sip of their sweet moistness will bring memories of the warmth of summer; the mellow warmth of a late summer’s afternoon golden sun. Here in the cool darkness all care and demands seem to evaporate and for a while I can find quiet solace. I take out my precious little book, hidden behind a row of ferments and bless my mother again for teaching me how to read and write in a time when few women were taught the skill. Here in my secret Kingdom I can open my innermost secret room.
To be continued …