Cream of Wheat

Cream of wheat, the way my mom made it, was an off white puddle of hot cereal with a spoonful of margarine and a generous sprinkle of sugar.  The margarine would melt and then spread into a moat around the edge of the bowl.

It would be far too hot to eat at first, so I would scrape my spoon around the edge--gathering up the margarine, sugar, cereal richness that collected there.  Again and again, I would repeat the same rotation around the margins--each bite being a bit cooler than the last.  It was a favorite breakfast, a far superior riff on the familiar theme of cereal (it was usually cornflakes and I still don't understand why she would pour the milk before calling us to the table--the science of how each flake would somehow retain a semblance of cohesion, while simultaneously being completely soggy, is completely beyond me).

Familiar rituals...marking points of each day, each month and each year.

From cereal mornings to rodeo mornings--each day had a pattern that was familiar and comforting.  It was the variations from the usual that frightened me.  The too big, the too loud, the too much.  The uncertain parts that exploded with my mother's moods.

Yet, somehow, there was always a bowl, and a spoon, and a task to focus on--sometimes as simple as the dredging of a moat of margarine.

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