There was a fake sunflower stapled to the corner of the cabinet where you first entered; my mother had banged her head on it in her twenties, and my Babcia took the initiative to cover it up from there on. The pots, rusted, and old, and dating back forty years, collected dust atop the fridge. A creaky, old, loud fridge that smelled permanently of kielbasa and applesauce, the light flickering inside, and it stood about five feet too tall for me. Before it, sat a rug, threads pulling loose and the faded face of a Great Dane looking up at you inquisitively. I used to sit on the island, not the kind you eat breakfast at nowadays. The surface was an obstacle course of splinters and softened wood that threatened to split, and the various, torturous tools my Babcia implemented upon her doughs and meats. It smelt like cigarettes, and cider, and all-spice year round; it used to make me dizzy. With the turning of the leaves, returned the headiness of cinnamon as my Babcia boiled sticks in a *** on the corner wood-burning stove, a reminder of times past. The back door that led to the garden never hung correctly, and whined with use every time it opened, whether from the wind or one of us. Dirt, weeds, and leaves were tracked in; galoshes more of a decoration beside the door than ever used practically. I cut my finger once on the pasta maker that was ******* into the counter beside the sink; one of these industrial farmhouse sinks that never managed to **** down the bread crumbs and corn all the way. I had been playing with my cousin’s power rangers in it, much to his dismay. They never were the same after I made them go for a swim. The cookies, usually oatmeal, were kept in a cracked, porcelain rooster that sat strict and unyielding next to the window; more sunflowers there as well, this time on the curtains that were stained despite how many times they’d been washed. I was never very tall, but I was good at climbing. Even in my dresses. And with feet blackened from the garden, I would struggle onto any available surface in that kitchen, and watch as my Babcia worked, knuckles dried and cracked as her hands mercilessly kneaded dough; whether it be for breads, pies, or pretzels. She would coat the pretzel dough in cinnamon sugar and feed me tiny pieces of it, and with a sip of her hard cider to wash it down, I was spoiled rotten in that kitchen. Despite the dust, the rust, the dirt, the clutter; it was my tiny kingdom, with an overloaded dishwasher, wooden spoons that met my backside more often than I prefered, and an ever boiling kettle. I can remember the way the sun would shine through on August nights, just before dinner started at 6:30 pm, the way the evening would cast the entire room gold and green, Stevie Nick’s voice gritty and soft, and the entire house smelled of pierogies and sausage. The adults would be bustling to and fro, and I would pretend to help, when really all I was doing was stealing bits of biscuits and gravy for me and the dogs. I can remember the stillness of early morning, the wafting scent of coffee that flooded the room like steam, I can remember struggling to reach the jam, the familiar ding of the toaster, and my Grandfather’s hands, fat and calloused, pushing me up until I was settled onto the island, and the windows opened as he smoked, the blackest cup of coffee you’d ever seen in one hand, and the gray of his hair turning white in the light of the rising sun. If I closed my eyes, I am able to envision it all. Each speck of dust that danced in the air, every berry stain that became useless to try and remove due to my clumsiness, the stacks of Blues Clues applesauce that took up the bottom shelf of the fridge, and the sight of the vegetable garden just through the back door, bountiful and green and ready to harvest.