Hot Cereal

One day this week, I hurried into the lunch room between meetings at work to refill my ever present water bottle and to get a quick cup of oatmeal. I noticed a woman whom I had never seen before standing at the microwave where she had just removed a bowl. The bowl contained some kind of hot cereal and beside the oven was a plastic container of milk and another of butter. She stirred the watery cereal for a few moments and put it back into the microwave.

As I stood at the water dispenser waiting for my bottle to fill, the oven beeped and she removed the bowl once again. She picked up her spoon and began to stir the cereal, slowly and deliberately, the hot water mixing with the cereal becoming one. I watched mesmerized as she continued to stir and mix the cereal. She wasn’t in a hurry at all.

I was taken back to years gone by when I made hot cereal for my children. There were a variety of different cereals that they enjoyed – rolled oats, cream of wheat, and corn meal to name a few. I remember early mornings standing at the stove stirring in that same easy manner in which this woman now stirred her breakfast. I remember the peaceful mornings with the sun shining in the window when I cooked for my children. Like it was yesterday, I can see the yellow gingham curtains hanging on the window that the table sat next to. I remember what it felt like to stir the cereal as it simmered. the wooden spoon moved back and forth, and in easy figure-eights as my mother had taught me years prior. For just a moment on that one hurried morning I was transported back to another time, and I remembered what it felt like to take it slow in the morning and immerse myself in a simple task.

All too soon, my water bottle was filled. I picked up my little paper packet of oatmeal, ripped it open and poured the sugary oats into a paper cup. Filling the cup with hot water directly from the dispenser I started to stir. To be sure, it was not the easy, mesmerizing stirring that I had watched moments before, but I did slow down a bit that morning and took a moment to remember.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things.
  1. Your story made me remember those cold mornings when I made cooked cereal for my boys to eat before they went out into the cold to board the bus to school. I put brown sugar, molasses, raisins, nuts, cinnamon, butter, milk on the table for them to “dress up” their hot cereal before digging in. Wonder if they remember?…

  2. I’ve discovered that if you can find time to cook hot cereal from scratch once, you can eat it many times. It keeps well in the refrigerator, and can be reheated in seconds in the microwave to taste as fresh as if you just stirred it up.

    So five or six minutes of serenity one morning can yield you many more over the next several days.

  3. Hey! Ritergal, I do that and it is great for 4-5 days. Yum! Actually, I put steel cut oats in a pan of boiling water in the evening when I am doing the dishes. Then I turn off the heat under the pan, cover it and let it sit overnight. Next morning I pop a bowl of the cereal into the microwave and have breakfast ready in a flash!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.