Treena Mielke

Mielke: rhubarb and baseball are a natural part of June

I had a ball game to go to, so I’d better get my rhubarb muffins in the oven quickly.

I sighed as I chopped the ruby red stocks into tiny pieces, my mind already racing ahead to diamonds two and five.

Chop! Chop! Chop!

I should be able to get both games in, I think to myself as I carefully measure sugar, oatmeal, baking soda and flour into a bowl.

“Make a well,” the recipe says. “Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir gently.”

Already I’m hearing the staccato crack of the bat, hearing the excited chatter, and, in my mind, running with those two precious boys around the bases.

I make the well, stir the ingredients together and carefully set the muffin pan in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

That’s when the doorbell rang.

And as the famous Scottish poet Robbie Burns said, “the best-laid plans of mice and men ………’

It was my sister and her husband at the door.

“Coffee on?” he shouts.

“Of course,” I shout back.

And so, it came to be as the clock ticked ominously on the kitchen wall, I served coffee and hugs and the conversation ran from their great-grandson’s kindergarten graduation to my sister’s days as a softball pitcher.

My sister was an amazing pitcher. I will be the first to admit it. And I never tire of hearing the stories of those days when she pitched no-hitters and amazed everyone with her lightning speed.

The talk slips back to the past, to the good old days and the ball diamond at Condor, the hamlet where we grew up.

And then my timer goes off, its shrill sound piercing the wall of our memories and bringing us back to today.

The muffins were done.

“I don’t like rhubarb,” my brother-in-law says.

I ignore him and encourage him to try just one. He ate two.

And I was happy.

And at that moment in time, it seemed like I was right where I should be, serving fresh rhubarb muffins in a kitchen that smelled of home and good things just out of the oven, listening to ball stories from days that will forever live in our memories like dusty ball fields and backstops faded and blurred with time.

I help myself to a rhubarb muffin.

“Not bad,” I think. I love rhubarb, not so much how it tastes, but what it represents.

Rhubarb is home. Rhubarb is constant, inevitable, and good.

Rhubarb grows, no matter what.

I make it to the ball games, late of course, but I’m there.

I tell anyone who cares and a few others who don’t that I am the grandma of the third baseman and the catcher.

And then I drive home, thinking ball games and rhubarb are a natural part of June that will last forever like wild roses and the last days of school.

And I smile, quite pleased and happy with the world in general, but then I notice my gas gauge is close to empty.

Darn it! There is always some fly in the ointment, I guess.

Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.