Her hands worked the lard into the flour. I sat there at the table, maybe eight years old at the time, mesmerized by the rhythmic motion. Every so often she turned the bowl and continued to knead the now forming dough. Those hands. I knew the comfort of those hands. I knew their softness on my head as she ran her fingers through my hair. I knew their coolness on my forehead at times when I was sick with a cold or had the flu and a fever burned in my body.
The dough was formed into a round ball and shaped into hand-sized patties then placed carefully in the hot frying pan of grease. They sizzled and a wonderful aroma filled the air. At the right moment she turned them over and it wasn’t long before the bannock was ready.
I liked to put jam on mine, preferably strawberry jam, if we had it. It tasted best if eaten when hot. Fried bannock was my favourite. She made oven bannock quite often but fried bannock was a treat.
The magic of it all was the comfort you felt when you ate the hot bannock. It made you feel safe and loved. No matter what you put on the bannock, jam, butter or even lard, you still got that good feeling. It was especially wonderful when she made it at the Fish Camp or later on at the trap line cabin. I can taste it now, perfect with a cup of tea.
The fresh oven bannock was always placed on its side on the counter in the kitchen, leaning against the fridge. When you were hungry all you had to do was cut yourself a chunk. It’s the first place that you would look when you came home from school. And years later, it’s the first place the grandchildren would look when they went to Kokum’s house.
Those hands. Time has taken them and twisted them and changed the way they look. But I know their gentleness, their love and have felt their caresses. They are beautiful hands.